November 3, 2023

Taking FMU Athletics To New Heights

Taking FMU Athletics To New Heights

Taking FMU Athletics To New Heights

By Anna Kathryn Strom  |  November 2023  |  FMU Focus Magazine Fall 2023


The latest addition to Francis Marion University’s athletic program is officially off the ground.

Both literally and figuratively.

Acrobatics and tumbling became the 15th varsity sport this fall.

Head coach Brittany Rueb welcomed 17 student athletes to the team this semester. Off-season workouts are underway.

Formal competition will begin in February when FMU will face off against regional opponents Emmanuel, Belmont Abbey and Lander, among others. The season will culminate with the Conference Carolinas tournament in April.

Assembling a team from scratch has been a challenge for Rueb, but it’s also been rewarding.

“I knew that what we could offer at FMU was more than enough to build a successful program,” Rueb said. “I started with a state-wide search for athletes who would make an exceptional academic and athletic fit for FMU. After searching state-wide, I opened up my search margins to the country, and even worldwide, to continue to bring quality student-athletes to the Francis Marion campus. After much success, we have a full roster ready to compete in our inaugural season. This is a school that athletes from all over the world want to attend.”

Rueb comes to FMU from Arizona Christian University, where she served as an admission assistant and supervisor for two years. She was a four-year starter on the school’s acrobatics and tumbling intercollegiate team before graduating in 2022.

Athletic Director Murray Hartzler feels confident in Rueb’s leadership and looks forward to seeing how this new program will enrich Patriot Athletics.

“Coach Rueb has done an outstanding job with recruiting and building the foundation for our new program,” Hartzler says. “Having personal experience in starting a sport from scratch, I know it takes an immense amount of work to get the school’s name out to potential students. Coach Rueb has done such a good job in doing that, she has been invited to speak at recruiting events for acrobatics and tumbling. She has truly vested herself in the University, and I believe under her direction in the coming years, we will grow to be one of the top teams in the conference year-in and year-out.”

Acrobatics and Tumbling was adopted as an emerging NCAA sport in 2020 and is expected to become an NCAA championship sport in the near future. It is currently administered by the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA).

Nearly 50 NCAA member schools currently have acrobatics and tumbling teams. Division II, where FMU competes, is by far the most active with 35 teams. Six of those teams are in South Carolina.

Acrobatics and Tumbling features a mix of gymnastics and competitive cheerleading. Meets typically involve 2-3 teams competing in six events. Judges score the events in a manner similar to Olympic-style gymnastics.

Up to 28 individuals can participate in a meet for each team. Overall team sizes vary from school to school.

With practices under way, Rueb is excited for all that is to come.

“We can’t wait to showcase the team in a few short months,” Rueb says. “We have an extremely talented group of athletes who have been working hard and learning this new sport. The team’s cohesiveness and understanding of what needs to be done every practice session is extremely motivating as a coach.”



FMU is launching two new doctoral programs in the next year, a further sign of the university’s burgeoning academic prowess.

FMU’s campus continues to buzz with sound construction and progress as additions and improvements are put in place.

A look at recent events across campus and in the FMU community.