Meet the Carroll Grad Who’s On the Country’s Best A&T Team
Jun 19, 2015 10:37AM ● Published by Audrey Sellers
This spring, the Baylor Bears won their first national title for acrobatics and tumbling (A&T), and Carroll grad, Kelci Ortiz (pictured second from left), was part of the team. Ortiz began tumbling at age five, and at Carroll Senior High School, she competed on the NCA Cheer Team, was an All-American Cheerleader from 2009-2012, and was named the 2012 Varsity MVP. She was also a member of the varsity soccer team.
So what led Ortiz to Baylor’s A&T team?
“I chose A&T mainly because I could have the best of both worlds,” she says. “There was a time in high school that I remember vividly having to choose one sport because it was getting to that point when I had to think about college. I remember saying to myself: ‘Which one could I not live without?’”
A&T is the only Division 1 option for gymnastics skill sets in the state. It was created six years ago to give women the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level as part of a true varsity sport. The hope of the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association is to continue to add schools. With each school, there will be 40 new opportunities for women to compete at the collegiate level.
For Ortiz, A&T is the perfect sport for her passion and talents. It combines the tumbling and stunting from cheer with the athletic component of soccer.
“It’s physically exhausting and requires a concrete mindset. You have to be very dedicated, and hard work is a requirement,” she says. “But I enjoy the fact that I get to wake up every day and do something that I love.”
Baylor was one of the first universities in the country to start the sport of A&T, and it fielded its first team in 2011. The program had not had a winning season until this year.
Felecia Mulkey, Baylor’s Head Coach for A&T, says she knew this year’s team had a long way to go – but she also knew they were ready to work.
“The journey to the National Championship was one of small victories throughout the year – not just athletically but mentally,” Mulkey says. “The team had to decide that they were worthy of a championship. They had to believe in themselves. By the end of the season, they believed. I always talk about peaking at the right time, and this team peaked at the national tournament.”
Mulkey is optimistic about what the future holds for the Baylor Bears A&T team – and for Ortiz.
“Kelci is the ultimate team player – always willing to do or say what she needs to in order to bring out the best in her teammates,” she says. “I’m excited because she is a very talented athlete.”