Chelsea Shaw brings family feel to acrobatics and tumbling
Oregon acrobatics and tumbling head coach Chelsea Shaw calls the idea silly, but genius.
At the end of practice, the Ducks gather on the mat and tell their teammates that they love each other. It’s a simple, but successful method for team building, Shaw believes.
“It was kind of genius to bring everyone as one and be a family,” Shaw said.
This family, a team that’s won four-straight NCATA National Championships, has plenty of new faces this year — including Shaw. Shaw is replacing former coach Felecia Mulkey, who left to become the head coach at Baylor this year.
Shaw, a former base at Oregon under the coaching of Mulkey, can see similarities between her coaching philosophies and Mulkey’s. Using that, as well as inserting her own methods, helps keep the family environment established by Mulkey intact.
“A lot of her philosophies and ways have rubbed off on me,” Shaw said. “That helped in the consistency, knowing that I have come through this program, that I have been in there shoes and that I can relate to them a lot.”
Senior Tara Lubert noticed the effects of Shaw stressing a family mentality with the team early on. Usually, it takes a couple of meets for the team to fully trust each other. Under Shaw, Lubert noticed it from the beginning of preseason practices.
The only pause in the team’s camaraderie in year’s past usually belongs to the adjustment period by the incoming freshman. With 15 freshman on the team – compared to 12 the season before – Shaw would tell the veterans on the team to put an emphasis on assisting the newcomers in the adjusting process.
“This year, we’ve really taken the freshman under our wings and we’ve come a lot closer together,” Lubert said. “We’ve got that different atmosphere in the first meet than we did last year.”
In the first meet, Oregon beat Azusa Pacific 281.480 – 275.100. The point total was the highest the team has scored in the opening meet of a season since 2012.
When asked about the rationale behind instituting love as a theme with her team, Shaw was quick to respond.
“It makes you think about the people you love — your friends and your family — and it makes you never want to let them down,” Shaw answered. “These kids want to do everything they can to not let their teammates down. They’ll collapse on the mat before they let them down.”
Senior base Erika Schaefer echoed her coach’s statements.
“We all feed off each other,” she said. “We’re kind of just a big family.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @JoeJHoyt
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