Nov. 10, 2011
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-Changes are coming in what used to be the sport of cheerleading, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is well-prepared to take the next step with the hiring of a new coach.
John Gilbert is the Corsairs' new head coach in what is now the sport of Acrobatics & Tumbling, which will begin competition during the 2012-13 academic year.
The sport is currently governed by the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association with the goal of becoming an NCAA emerging sport, and Gilbert has the credentials to succeed with the Corsairs.
Currently the owner of G-Force Elite, a training facility in Canton, MA, Gilbert has several years of collegiate coaching experience. A native of Saratoga Springs, NY, Gilbert graduated from Scarborough HS in Maine, and then began his coaching career at Bishop Feehan HS while attending the University of Rhode Island. While doing his student teaching, he began coaching at Curry College. He has also coached at McCollum HS in San Antonio, TX before eventually moving back to New England and coaching at Providence College. He also has coached internationally, in Canada, Mexico, Finland, Germany and France, among other places.
"I've been involved in coaching cheerleading since I started cheering in high school," said Gilbert. "I was teaching health and physical education in school and coaching on the side, and I began coaching cheerleading full time in 2006 at McCollum HS in Texas. They had a pep squad with more than 50 kids in the program, and they would be at all the games."
Gilbert then left to run the Sports Barn in Chattanooga, TN before relocating to New England, and the timing was right as far as UMD was concerned.
"I've been involved with the NCATA for a number of years, and I was waiting for the next school in New England to pick it up," said Gilbert. "I was excited to hear that UMass Dartmouth was going in that direction. If a New England school picked it up, I wanted to help the new format take off."
"We are very fortunate to hire someone of John Gilbert's caliber to be our Acrobatics & Tumbling coach," said UMass Dartmouth Director of Athletics Ian Day. "I am confident he will quickly establish the program as an elite one, in this new and exciting sport"
The NCATA format consists of six rounds. "I would compare it to a gymnastics meet," said Gilbert. "The student-athletes display different skills throughout their routine. They take a lot of the skills and separate them out every time the team does a group stunt."
Six teams began the NCATA-Maryland, Quinnipiac, Fairmont State, Oregon, Baylor and Azusa Pacific, and they will hold their national championship at Baylor next spring. "This year, we will be introducing the program, recruiting athletes, and planning to go to some local meets next year to try to get to the nationals," said Gilbert. "We'll be setting up some workshops this winter and spring to educate people about the new format."
UMASS DARTMOUTH CHEERLEADING