Confucius, the world famous Chinese philosopher who lived from 551 to 479 B.C., said, “Study the past if you would divine the future.” That same thought is echoed by William Shakespeare over 2000 years later when he writes, “What is past is prologue”. The Georgia Cumberland Academy gymnastics is a prime example of this principle. In order to understand and appreciate our program, it is essential to know its deep roots.
In 1968, Georgia Cumberland Academy started its first gymnastics team under Coach Jim Gardiner. At that time, the school and its gymnastics team were in their infancy. From its humble beginnings in 1968, GCA gymnastics has steadily grown. In 1975 Coach Wally Fox came to GCA. In addition to teaching P.E. and health, he became the gymnastics coach. He coached GCA’s gymnastics team for 21 years. During this time, Coach Fox developed more than gymnasts. He created a program of excellence.
History teaches that successful programs require more than talented athletes. Talent can only take a team so far. The programs that consistently excel are based on proper attitude and commitment to teamwork. Those qualities have been hallmarks of the Georgia Cumberland Academy gymnastics team.
In 1992, in an attempt to promote team unity, Coach Fox and the GCA gymnastics program took the name Acroflyers. Like the Southern Adventist University Gym-Masters or the Andrews University Gymnics, having a name established an identity that stood for outstanding talent and dedication. As a matter of fact, many of the GCA Acroflyers who learned to embody these traits went on to be crucial parts of university teams.
This commitment to maintaining excellence continued through the years of Coach Tim Epperson. Unfortunately though, every program goes through ups and downs. For several years in the late 1990’s, GCA did not have a gymnastics coach and disbanded its team.
Coach Doug Nesmith and assistant coach Travis Epperson stepped into this void and restarted the gymnastics program. When Coach Nesmith was unable to continue, Coach Epperson and assistant coaches Shannon and Clint Higginbotham, all former Acroflyers, took over the team. In order to reestablish a team identity they took the name Flying Jaguars. For the last six years, the Flying Jaguars have continued the tradition of gymnastics at GCA.
Both the Acroflyers and the Flying Jaguars served well as an identity for GCA gymnastics. The Flying Jaguars could never have had the success they have had without the strength of its Acroflyers roots.
It is in the spirit of those roots that we are returning to the name Acroflyers. As a coach and a history major, I believe deeply that the quality of a program stands on the work of those who came before.
Becoming the Acroflyers allows us to revive an identity that has stood for excellence since 1992 when Coach Fox first debuted the name.