Central Illinois Sports Report with Elise Menaker: Tumbling and Trampoline


Most people spent time when they were younger jumping on a trampoline in a backyard somewhere. Mom and dad were always yelling at their kids to be careful; don't go too high. But what if they were rewarded for jumping high, flipping and turning?  They have themselves a sport: tumbling and trampoline. And if it sounds easy, WAND's Elise Menaker proves in this week's Central Illinois Sports Report that it's not.

It takes gymnastics to a whole new height, tumbling and trampoline. Co-owner of the Mattoon Academy of Gymnastics and coach Lis White has 500 students per week in the gym's programs, 85 of the students compete in tumbling and trampoline.

"If they're really good at the trampoline, they just absolutely love it," Lis said. "It's just that flipping and the power that comes in the tumbling, they just like it."

There's no balance beam, no bars. Just trampolines and a floor with rods in it to make it bouncy.

"They have to have an awareness, spacial awareness in the air," Lis explained. "They have to have a lot of power, flexibility, strength."

Out of all things, the athletes say it's power that separates it from gymnastics.

"You can have the skills but you also have to make them tight, so it's really hard to perfect your skills," explained elite athlete Emily White.

The 11 year old has been tumbling since she was 4 years old thanks to coach, mom.

"Let's go. Come on. Reach strong. Squeeze tight, legs tight. Good," yelled Lis as she trained her daughter.

"I just loved jumping on the trampoline so she signed me up for classes," Emily said.

Emily tumbled with some of her friends, like 13-year-old Kelsey Nelson, both girls compete at the elite level.

"They just became elite this year so they're at the highest level for their sport right now," Lis explained.

Kelsey is one of the athletes who started in gymnastics.

"Gymnastics I struggled a little bit more and that was my main thing in gymnastics was flipping around on the floor, instead of like bars and beam, so once I transferred to tumbling, it was just a better fit," Kelsey explained.

Now it's the thrill of skills and flips that keep her bouncing back.

"I really like flipping in the air and just being able to do such great skills," she said.

It's a sport for anyone whether they are four year olds, a boy or a girl.

"What's the one thing you want people to know about this sport?" asked WAND's Elise Menaker

"That it's really fun and you should give it an opportunity," Kelsey answered.

So Elise gave it a try and even the basics were hard. She kept her arms by her side and used her head and upper body to help her rotate and just once she was able to spin.

But beyond the springs, like all sports, there are valuable lessons the girls are jumping into.

"They're hard workers," Lis said. "If there's something that tumbling and trampoline does it's just, it builds discipline hard work. It teaches the kids how to work hard toward their goals."

No matter how high those goals may be.

The students train for tumbling and trampoline four to seven hours a week to be very competitive. Gymnastics has an extra event to train for so those athletes put in longer hours at the gym.

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