James Wood's Walker signs to do acrobatics & tumbling with Fairmont State

5fbc02b638129.imageJames Wood senior Maddi Walker has experience in cheerleading and gymnastics, and she’ll get to spend college combining her love for both.

A cheerleader for the Colonels, Walker signed to compete in acrobatics & tumbling with Fairmont State University of Fairmont, W.Va., on Monday in a ceremony in James Wood’s auditorium. Walker is receiving a combination of partial athletic and academic scholarships.

Primarily an NCAA Division II athletic program, Fairmont State is one of 36 schools nationally that compete in the National Collegiate Acrobatic and Tumbling Association.

Acrobatics and tumbling became a college sport in the spring of 2011. Teams compete in six events — compulsories, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling and team event. The sport combines skills sets used in artistic gymnastics, an Olympic sport, as well as acrobatics, an internationally competed and recognized sport.

Walker has had a decorated cheerleading career at James Wood, earning First Team Region 4C and Class 4 Northwestern District all three years (the competition cheer season won’t start until February for the 2020-21 school year) and a Class 4 All-State First Team selection her sophomore year. Walker does gymnastics at Flipncheer in Kearneysville, W.Va.

“It’s a combination of both gymnastics and cheer,” Walker said. “Instead of having to choose between one of the two sports, by doing acro & tumbling, I’m able to use my talents from both of those sports together into one sport.”

Walker reached out to Fairmont State’s coaching staff in July and sent them skill videos, and she’s stayed in regular contact with them since. She visited Fairmont State two weeks ago.

“The campus is beautiful, and they have a lot of majors to choose from,” said Walker, who is undecided on a major right now but is interested in criminal justice. “The coaches were very welcoming. I’ve always wanted to be on their acro team because they’re extremely talented.”

The acrobatics & tumbling season runs from February until April. The Fighting Falcons went 4-0 overall and in the Mountain East Conference in 2020 before the rest of the season was canceled due to COVID-19. In 2019, Fairmont State went 8-2 (4-0 MEC), won the MEC Championship Meet, and advanced to the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association quarterfinals.

The team is led by Danielle Cutri, who will head into her first year as head coach after serving as an assistant coach for the Falcons for four years. One of the team members is Millbrook graduate Caitlyn Faint, a senior.

Walker also considered West Virginia Wesleyan, another MEC school. She said there’s a number of roles she could fill at Fairmont State, including tumbler, flyer or a mid, which is someone who is in between a base and a flyer.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to do a sport in college,” Walker said. “I’ve always looked up to college athletes. And I think it will be a fun experience, because you get to travel and you get a bunch of team gear, and it’s just a step up from high school.”

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