If you’ve never heard of a sport called Acro-Tumbling (short for Acrobatics & Tumbling), you’re probably not alone. But it is quickly gaining popularity, especially at the collegiate level, where several schools field competitive Acro-Tumbling teams. One Bridgeway Academy student-athlete, senior Arielle Goudeaux, discovered the sport when she was in middle school and immediately fell in love with it. So much so that she recently earned an Acro-Tumbling scholarship to Emmanuel College, a private Christian college in Franklin Springs, Georgia! And Arielle certainly earned that scholarship through hard work, both in the gym and in her homeschool classroom.
An Amazing Athlete
Since she was just 3, when she began dancing, Arielle has shown impressive athletic ability. Her love for gymnastics began around the age of 6. And if you’re serious about gymnastics, you know it’s a grind and you know you’re spending hours and hours working on your craft in the gym. “As a previous gymnast, I had to attend the gym up to 30 hours a week,” said Arielle. “I would wake up early in the morning and attend practice. During lunch breaks, I would do some school, and then I would finish after the rest of practice.”
Arielle continued her competitive gymnastics career for 10 years, officially “retiring” from the sport in 2021 so she could put all her energy, focus, and time into Acro-Tumbling. The sport, as defined by the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA), “is the evolution of different disciplines of gymnastics, which includes the athletic aspects of competitive cheerleading. The format was created at the collegiate level in 2009 to address the interests and abilities of young women competing in this skill set. Individuals and small groups execute acrobatic lifts, tosses, and tumbling.”
Acro-Tumbling became an NCAA emerging sport in all three divisions (NCAA Division I, II, and III) effective August 1, 2020. There are hopes it becomes a fully sanctioned NCAA championship sport in the near future. With Acro-Tumbling combining elements of gymnastics and cheerleading, the sport appeals to a broad range of athletes and is looking to make its way into more NCAA colleges and universities.
Arielle first noticed Acro-Tumbling in middle school when a fellow athlete from her gym was accepted into the sport. And once she started, she never wanted to stop.
The Balancing Act of Sports and School
If a student-athlete has their mind set on continuing to perform in college–and perhaps beyond–they need time. Lots of time–to practice, to train, and to rest and recover. A college student-athlete doesn’t become a college student-athlete by accident or pure luck. They put countless hours into perfecting their craft and taking their bodies to extremes that most people can’t even comprehend. Whether it’s on the field, at the rink, or in the gym, these sacrifices require time. So, where does school fit in? After all, we’re talking about a student-athlete.
Many families of serious student-athletes turn to homeschooling because of the flexibility it provides. This allows a student-athlete to put in the required amount of training and practice while focusing on school in between. Arielle, her mom Brandye, and her dad Steve, decided that homeschooling was the best option in 8th grade. But it wasn’t an easy decision. After all, there are many homeschooling options out there.
Deciding on Bridgeway
When Arielle was involved with gymnastics, one of her former gyms in Tennessee recommended she take online classes so she’d have more training time. That gym mentioned Bridgeway Academy as a possibility, and the family researched from there. In Brandye’s eyes, a few things separated Bridgeway from the rest. “Bridgeway stood out to us because we didn’t have to track everything for the NCAA like other homeschool students do,” explained Brandye. “With the Total Care Elite program, it was so much simpler when applying to be a part of the NCAA.”
“Also, we loved the fact that Bridgeway has a live, in-person graduation!”
Arielle also appreciates the fact that the Total Care Elite program helps ensure that “I will have all my classes I need to graduate and go into an NCAA sport.”
A Day in the Life of the Goudeaux Family
As Arielle proceeds through her senior year with dreams of studying Elementary Education at Emmanuel College, she continues to balance the time commitments of both Acro-Tumbling and school. “Bridgeway Academy has made it possible for me to achieve my academic and athletic goals by providing me with a flexible school schedule,” said Arielle. “But I also love the hands-on teachers and staff who are here to help you as much as possible.”
There’s no real “typical” day in the lives of many student-athletes. Most days consist of Arielle using part of Brandye’s office at work as her classroom where she does school online. “Then she goes to the gym during the second half of the day since it’s right down the street,” Brandye said. “From there, she practices tumbling and then coaches several classes before I pick her back up to go home. On days she does not have class or coaching, she does school from home.”
“It is demanding and time-consuming at times, but we have a good schedule that works for us. And having the flexibility Bridgeway provides makes it much more seamless.”
But it’s not just the flexibility that Arielle and her family appreciate about homeschooling with Bridgeway. Above all else, Arielle is getting a high-quality education that will set her up for success after graduation. “Bridgeway has definitely helped prepare Arielle for college,” said Brandye. “The classes she’s taking are often more challenging than the public school classes she had, so it keeps her on her toes!”
The Dream Becomes Reality
November 9, 2022, was a day the Goudeaux family will always remember. It’s the day that Arielle signed her letter of intent to join Emmanuel College’s Acro-Tumbling program as the school’s first signee of the Class of 2027. It was the culmination of countless hours in the gym, sacrifices the family made to support Arielle’s passion, and an unrelenting will and determination to succeed. And succeed, she did.
“Signing day was like a long-awaited dream,” recalled Brandye. “It seems surreal when you see your child’s photo being featured on the college’s social media pages and the national page for Acro and Tumbling!”
Beyond the surrealness, signing day was a symbolic end of one journey as well as the beginning of another. The journey that ended was an emotional one. “We have always encouraged her passion through consistent support, keeping her enrolled in gymnastics through the hardest days, being at all of the competitions, and telling her that she could do it–always keeping an eye on the bigger picture down the road,” Brandye explained.
The parental support and perseverance paid off, and signing day was the celebration. “Signing day was great,” Arielle stated. “Before my practice, my coaches and teammates came to watch me sign, and my parents made sure I had an amazingly decorated table with treats to share!”
“I was super-happy to find out that Emmanuel College accepted me, and I am very excited to be a part of the team.”
When it comes to engagement with school, it’s one thing to talk about how great the school is and how much you enjoy it. But, as school spirit and community go, Arielle certainly walks the walk. Along with following Bridgeway’s social media, participating in giveaways, taking part in Spirit Week, and volunteering for community service, Arielle has also taken advantage of the socialization that Bridgeway Academy (and Total Care Elite) provides.
“There are many opportunities to reach out to other Bridgeway peers,” Arielle said. “I’ve had other friends and teammates also homeschool through Bridgeway, which made it easier for me to ask questions and talk about school.”
Away from Bridgeway, Arielle not only stays busy honing her own skills but also teaching others to do the same. “Outside of tumbling and school, I’m a gymnastics coach,” explained Arielle. “I love coaching and introducing a new sport to other girls.”
Words of Wisdom for Fellow Student-Athletes
Every student-athlete (and every student, for that matter) takes a different path to a different destination. About halfway down her path, Arielle came across Bridgeway Academy, where she’ll finish this leg of her journey at graduation in June before embarking on the next path toward Emmanuel College. And while every family and student has unique goals and priorities, Arielle and her family have some wisdom to share, having nearly completed this portion of the journey.
“Do a lot of research to find the best fit for your unique situation, ask lots of questions, and talk often to the child’s advisor, especially when it comes to following NCAA rules,” recommended Brandye.
Arielle agrees. “Consider your goals for homeschooling and think about the needs of both the child and the family,” she said. “Would homeschooling help them pursue these goals and allow them to be a better student?”
Bridgeway Academy certainly fit that role for Arielle. “Bridgeway has allowed me to learn at my own pace and help me achieve my goals at the same time. I am very proud to be a part of Bridgeway, and I highly recommend others to join the Bridgeway community!”
Bridgeway couldn’t be more proud of Arielle. And neither could Brandye and Steve. Said Brandye, “We are beyond proud of all that Arielle has accomplished and always knew she would succeed in everything she set her mind to.”
Do you have a student-athlete with similar experiences? Share your story with us!