Junior Transfer Competing in World Championships
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Hope Bravo has already been on the big stage, competing at the Junior Olympics and World Age Group Competitions.
But, this is even bigger.
The junior transfer from Navarro Junior College, in her first year with the Baylor acrobatics & tumbling program, will represent USA Gymnastics at the World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships that will be held Nov. 9-12 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
"Honestly, I'm extremely excited about it," Bravo said. "I wouldn't say I'm nervous, but the excitement is like coming upon me. The opportunity to represent the United States is a big honor."
Held annually (except the Olympic year), the World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships determine the men's and women's world champions in four events: trampoline, synchronized trampoline, tumbling and double mini-trampoline.
Bravo was one of five women selected for the tumbling event after finishing second at the World Championship selection camp, held Aug. 31-Sept. 3 at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas.
"Over the course of our competition season, we have to attend certain meets. And at those meets, we have to basically hit a certain score or catch the eye of the people who select the national team," Bravo said. "At nationals, they basically look at us and select people based on how well they did over the season, and they also select people by potential, to compete at any national events."
While trampoline was added to the Olympics in 2000, power tumbling is not an Olympic event, so this is the biggest international event.
"Artistic gymnastics is in the Olympics, but a lot of times people don't draw the parallel there, even though it's the same basic skill set," Baylor A&T coach Felecia Mulkey said. "But to be one of the ones chosen to compete on behalf of the United States in international competition is amazing. What a fantastic opportunity for Hope and for Baylor and for the sport. This is a big deal and a big first for us."
At the World Championships, the tumbling event utilizes elevated rod-floor runways that enable athletes to jump at heights more than 10 feet and execute a variety of acrobatic maneuvers.
The biggest difference for Bravo, other than the "very, very bouncy floor" versus the two-inch "dead floor" mat used in acrobatics & tumbling, is the end skill in her tumbling routines. "It's a single skill, but it has like a full twist or a full twist and a half, so I would say it's pretty different."
Bravo got her start in artistic gymnastics at 3 years old, jumped into power tumbling at 12, "and then around maybe 13 or 14, I got pretty serious about it and consistently went to meets and tried to make the Olympic Development program. Then on to the Junior National Team and now the Senior National Team."
Since she was born in Temple and counted Waco as one of her many homes in moves around the state, Baylor "has always been that school I wanted to go," Bravo said.
"I saw that acro & tumbling was becoming more popular, and I had competed with a couple girls on the team around 2012," she said. "I just heard so many great things about it. I wanted to come my freshman year, but financially it was smarter for me to go to junior college and then transfer over. I've always wanted to go to Baylor, and acro & tumbling was kind of the icing on the cake."
At Navarro, the 19-year-old Bravo was on the competitive cheer team, a new recruiting ground for the college acrobatics & tumbling squads.
"A lot of the Texas junior colleges have great competitive cheer programs, and a lot of the athletes are gymnasts," Mulkey said. "So, we started looking in that area. The power tumbling piece is kind of an untapped area for us. (All-American Kiara Nowlin) was a power tumbler before she transitioned into competitive cheer. And I think being here in Texas, Hope had heard about Baylor and the opportunities it offered."
For Bravo, like the World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, joining the three-time national champion Baylor acrobatics & tumbling team is a dream come true.
"I can't even put it into words, because Coach Fee is creating her own legacy here," she said. "What Coach Fee has done with Baylor acro, she's taken it to another level. Seeing all these girls from their freshman year till now, and how successful they've been, it blows my mind. And I want to be a part of that. It's still kind of surreal. Sometimes, I can't believe that I'm actually here."
Bravo will be with the USA Gymnastics team for training at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville from Tuesday through Saturday before traveling to Bulgaria for the World Championships.
WACO, Texas -- Baylor acrobatics & tumbling incoming junior-transfer Hope Bravo earned a spot to represent the 2017 USA Gymnastics Senior Elite Trampoline & Tumbling National Team at the World Championships on Nov. 9-19 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Bravo will partake in the Team USA World Championships preparation camp on Oct. 31-Nov. 4 before heading to Bulgaria.
In July, Bravo was named to the 2017 USA Gymnastics Senior Elite Trampoline & Tumbling National Team and did well enough at the World Championships selection camp that was held on Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Huntsville, Texas and the World Age Group selection camp in the same location on Sept. 7-10.
The Dallas native has already competed in several events as a member of Team USA, including the Winter Classic in Battlecreek, Michigan on Feb. 24-26, the Texas State Championships in April, the Regional Championships in May, the Elite Challenge in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 18-21 and the Senior National Team Camp in Huntsville on May 25-28.
After spending two years at Navarro Junior College, Bravo joins the Bears for the 2018 season as BU looks to continue its run after capturing three straight National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) national titles.