By Julia Page Smith, Contributing Writer
From jumping through rings of fire and bleacher diving, to triple-tucks off trampolines and basket tosses; Asbury University’s tumbling team has been amazing audiences for 51 years.
But, if you visit the offices of any of the tumbling team coaches, you will not see any trophies or medals. The tumbling team is a ministry. They do not compete with other schools but use their skills to serve others. Throughout the spring and summer, they tour public schools in parts of Georgia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.
“Our ministry is mainly kids. We get to spread God through gymnastics, tumbling, stunting and trampoline. I just think that’s really fun, and really cool,” said freshman tumbler Caleb Ripley.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with children, and I have loved using gymnastics for the kids,” said freshman tumbler Bailey Crouch.
This weekend, the tumbling team is hosting Jym Jam. Jym Jam is the “last hurrah” of the tumbling performance season. It’s one of the few performances that tumblers offer on-campus.
“We get to minister to the people here at Asbury, which is important because they are part of our family,” said Crouch.
“It’s a unique event because it is something we are able to present in front of our peers…(and) show how we can serve God through our different talents,” said coach and Asbury tumbling alumna Rebecca Vaughn.
Alumni tumblers like Ben Dennard and Coach Rebecca Vaughn are quick to express their excitement for the event.
“This is the first time I’ve been back in six months,” said Dennard. “It’s a 10 hour drive for me, and I have work, but there was no way I was going to miss Jym Jam.”
Vaughn says last year’s 50th reunion drew quite a crowd.
“We had tons of alumni attend,” she said. “We had a guy that must have been in his 70s or 80s. He flew in from somewhere in the Midwest. He came to be part of the experience of seeing how the tumbling team has grown since he was on team decades ago.”
For seniors Aubrey Carman and Keegan Peñalva, Jym Jam is their last team performance. Both said they will miss the close friendships that thrive among teammates.
“[It’s] God’s provision through people, through emotional needs, spiritual needs and physical needs. Just how God loves us through other people, he puts them in our lives,” said Carman. “That is the team for me.”