Acrobatics & TumblingSports

Q&A: Oregon’s Shelby Armstrong spends her spare time coaching the next generation of tumblers



The transition from athlete to coach in acrobatics and tumbling happens, a lot – especially at the University of Oregon. Four head coaches in the National Collegiate Acrobatic and Tumbling Association (NCATA), including Ducks current head coach Chelsea Shaw, competed at UO before venturing to become head coaches else where.

Junior Shelby Armstrong might be the next to join that list.

Armstrong, a base for Oregon, started coaching tumbling two months ago at Willamalane Center in Springfield, Oregon for kids ages 3-12. Though challenging at times, Armstrong says she’s enjoyed the experience. Right now, coaching tumbling is a side job while she competes for Oregon.

Armstrong discussed her Willamalane experience with The Emerald.

So how do the tumbling practices usually go?

It’s different. It’s really different. You just have to learn to keep the kids entertained. You can teach them a lot, but you have to play games and all that. It’s fun though. I love it, they love it and they really love to learn. Some of them are so excited to come in everyday and learn a front wheel or a cartwheel. It’s cool.

Do you organize the practice plans?

Yeah, usually. My boss, he has sort of a tumbling background, so he helps a little bit but I normally just kind of play it as it goes. During the practices, I don’t usually have a plan. I just see what everyone is doing and all that.

How long have you been coaching at Willamalane for?

About two months.

Would you say it’s been a good experience?

Yeah. I love it, I really do. I’m excited for when our season is over because I’ll have more availability to (coach) because I’d love to do more classes.

Was it a surprising experience for you? Did anything happen that you didn’t expect as a coach?

I was kind of just thinking that it was going to be an easy job like, “Oh, I’ll just do this a couple hours a week. No big deal,” but actually, it’s kind of a lot more work than that. So many girls – I’m kind of littler – are actually about my size that are younger than me. So, it’s hard to spot them on stuff and hold them. It’s a lot more work than I thought it was going to be, but I like it, a lot.

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Joseph Hoyt

Joseph Hoyt

Joseph is in his third year as a sports reporter at the Emerald. If you have any questions for the reporter, email Joseph at [email protected]