Oregon has been a frontrunner in advancing the popularity of acrobatics and tumbling since it added a team during the 2008-09 school year. It will continue doing so this spring.
The Ducks will face Baylor in the Women In Flight meet at Matthew Knight Arena on March 30, which will be broadcasted by the Pac-12 Network. It will be the first nationally televised meet in the history of the sport.
Baylor and Oregon have been powerhouses in the sport for the past half-decade, and the two teams have combined to win the last five NCATA National Titles. The Bears edged out the Ducks in last year’s championship. The Ducks won four consecutive titles from 2011-14.
“For the sport and the girls and just the visibility of (acrobatics and tumbling), it’s going to be very, very exciting,” Oregon head coach Chelsea Shaw said.
According to Eric Lacy, Programming Manager at Pac-12 Network, the network had been tracking the progress of Oregon’s program for quite awhile, but wanted to make sure it had everything in place from a production and planning standpoint before it put forward the plan to air a meet.
He said he was reassured by the success the network has experienced when airing Pac-12 gymnastics meets. Because acrobatics and tumbling is another form of gymnastics, it could lend itself to similar success in terms of ratings.
“For us, we think that gymnastics has a lot of staying power and just makes for really great television,” Lacy said. “The fact that acro and tumbling is an evolution of different forms of gymnastics… it made for a no-brainer for us to pursue and now ultimately air.”
The Pac-12 Network typically airs gymnastics meets in the 12 p.m.- 2 p.m. window on Saturdays and Sundays, and occasionally airs meets Monday evenings at 6 p.m. The meet between Baylor and Oregon will have the added benefit of airing during primetime, and will begin at 7 p.m. on a Saturday.
Another factor that ultimately made the airing of the meet a feasible plan is the fact Matthew Knight Arena is a television-ready venue that provides the capability of broadcasting.
Lauren Loos, a three-time acrobatics and tumbling national champion at Oregon who now works in the Partner Services Department at Pac-12 Networks, also helped with the process.
Loos provided insight into the format of the meet and how one event rolls into another. She helped provide Lacy and his team with a vision of how they could most efficiently air the meet.
“Really not much changed about how Lauren laid it out and how our producers wanted to tweak it here and there to get it ready for TV,” said Jason Barrera, a programming assistant at Pac-12 Network.
“Basically the format that she laid out was 90 percent there for what we needed.”
Oregon is off to another strong start this season at 2-1; its only loss of the season came at Baylor on Feb. 21.
When they meet again in late March, they will be doing so with the chance to boost acrobatics and tumbling into a level of popularity the sport has yet to attain.
“We want the sport to grow every year and we’ve seen it grow every year,” Shaw said. “But I think for the visibility of the sport, a lot of our job is just educating because people simply still don’t know about acro and tumbling.”