TURNING A DREAM INTO REALITY

Champions’ TriBUne Archive
byKatie Shiffer

Champions’ TriBUne is a special feature through Baylor Athletics that gives you the student-athlete’s perspective and the chance for them to share their own story. Katie Shiffer, a rising senior from Fairfax, Va., has been part of back-to-back NCATA national championships with Baylor Acrobatics & Tumbling. Coming from a background in gymnastics and competitive cheer, she also won an individual event national title as a base in the inversion pyramid with a score of 9.90. Majoring in public health, Katie is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and has been named to the NCATA Academic Honor Roll each of the last two seasons. After college, she plans to pursue a career in healthcare administration:

“What is my story?” This is the question I have been asking myself since I was first given the opportunity to write a Champions’ TriBUne. However, I do not feel that I have one singular story. From my journey of being recruited and learning about the sport , to an uncertain freshman year that was ultimately disrupted due to a global pandemic, to winning two-consecutive national championships with the most amazing teams and staff. started out as, a dream.

I found out about the sport when I was in middle school, and was immediately drawn to it. I was at a point in my life where I had just quit competitive gymnastics – the only thing I had known my entire life – and had and no idea what the future looked like for me. I had always dreamed of competing at a high level, and the sport of Acrobatics & Tumbling gave me and so many other young women the chance to compete at the collegiate level and the opportunity to grow as an athlete and person.
 

Katie Shiffer Champions Tribune A&T

THE SPORT OF ACROBATICS & TUMBLING

The sport was created for women by women, and is the only sport other than football that was created at the collegiate level. Additionally, Acrobatics & Tumbling has given so many women and former athletes of the sport the opportunity to coach and continue to develop the sport. These are a few of the reasons why A&T is so special. Our coach always tells us how we are a part of history and are pioneers. I often forget and overlook this, but it is so true. Little girls are now going to grow up knowing the sport and aspiring to do it in college one day. All of us who are involved in the sport are helping grow the sport even more and inspire young girls to strive to be better and maximize their potential.

Katie Shiffer Champions Tribune A&T

THE BEGINNING OF MY FUTURE

One day, during the fall of my junior year of high school, I came to the realization that the sport I had been following on social media (and was in awe of) was something I could actually be a part of. I took the leap of faith and filled out a recruiting questionnaire on the Baylor Acrobatics & Tumbling website – with no confidence that I would hear anything back (from the best program in the country, may I add). Lo and behold, I received an email back soon after and began the recruiting process which led me to where I am today: competing at the collegiate level and being a part of something so much bigger than myself.

Competing, though, was not something I thought I would be doing when I first arrived at Baylor for my freshman year. I came into the fall with a preexisting injury from high school that I had been dealing with for a year and a half due to continuously being misdiagnosed. During those first few months of being a college athlete, I was finally (correctly) diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome in my left leg and was scheduled for surgery. My hope of competing that year had gone out the window.

Katie Shiffer Champions Tribune A&T

However, with the help of an amazing athletic training staff, encouraging coaches and teammates, and a lot of perseverance, I rehabbed and progressed back to pre-surgery shape. Then one day at practice, my coaches decided to try me as a backspot – a position I had experience with before, but not to the extent of throwing and catching a human in a toss, who had just flipped and twisted above my head. Nevertheless, my coaches had faith in me, and in return I had confidence in myself. Being a backspot in tosses granted me a newfound love for this position and the sport and secured me a spot on the mat for the 2020 season. I managed to compete in all but one meet during my freshman year before it was cut short due to the pandemic.

I was talking to my dad recently about my freshman year and my surgery. My dad had flown from Virginia to Waco to be there for my surgery and a few days post-op. He arrived in the evening when I had just gotten out of study hall. He told me, “The second I saw you come out of the building, I knew you were where you were supposed to be. Your joy radiated, and despite the circumstances, you were just so happy to be where you were.” This really hit me. Although I had no idea what the future was going to hold and if I would ever get the chance to compete, I was so thrilled to have had made it to where I was, to be a part of the program and school I worked so hard to get to, and to have the opportunity to work alongside the best of the best. This is also a testament to the place Baylor is. While being down and having a countless number of worries in my life, being surrounded by genuine people and being within an athletic department who will stop at nothing to support you, I still was fortunate to be where I was.

Katie Shiffer Champions Tribune A&T

EAGER TO IMPROVE

My sophomore and junior year, I strived to contribute more to the team than backspotting and a standing tumbling pass. It all really changed going into my junior year and 2021-2022 season. I can’t really describe it, but I just became a new athlete. I continued to lift and tumble consistently throughout the summer, which contributed to my improvement, but there was a strong shift in my mentality as well. I was determined and hungry. I also just loved what I was doing. A part of me shifted my perspective from being complacent and unsure of myself, to realizing what my body was capable of and appreciating what my body could do. That is when I started having more fun and joy with my skills, which led me to keep wanting to push myself to get the next skill or tumbling pass. By the end of my junior season, I competed my first solo pass and was a part of a group pass in 10 meets and competed in the trio pass at the NCATA Individual Event Finals. On top of all this, I was able to be a part of two national championship winning seasons. The endings, again, I could have only ever dreamed of. At the end of my junior year, at the end-of-the-year banquet, I was awarded the Most Improved Award† This meant so much to me. This award was reassurance that my hard work and growth was recognized.

I never would have thought that filling out that recruiting questionnaire and attending a summer camp at Baylor would lead me to where I am today. I went from unsure if I would ever compete to compete in every event (compulsory, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling, team event). I am so incredibly thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this team, program and athletic department. I have met so many wonderful and influential people that have made such an impact on me as an athlete and as a person.

Katie Shiffer Champions Tribune A&T

READY FOR A SPECIAL YEAR

Reflecting on the past three years as a college athlete brings me so much joy and makes me proud of what I have been through, what I have overcome and who I have become. I have acquired more skills on and off the mat than I ever imagined I would and made memories that will last a lifetime. My time at Baylor has been nothing but memorable, and I am planning to make the most of my last year here at the place that has shaped me to who I am today.

Previous Champions’ TriBUne Features:
Men’s Tennis – Sven Lah (May 5, 2022)
Baseball – Nolan Rodriguez (Apr. 28, 2022)
Equestrian – Caroline Fuller (Apr. 14, 2022)
Men’s Tennis – Matias Soto (Mar. 17, 2022)
Soccer – Ally Henderson-Ashkinos (Mar. 3, 2022)
Volleyball – Callie Williams (Nov. 4, 2021)
Soccer – Jennifer Wandt (Oct. 14, 2021)
Softball – Lou Gilbert (Aug. 5, 2021)
Women’s Track & Field – Aaliyah Miller (May 27, 2021)
Equestrian – Madaline Callaway (May 20, 2021)
Acrobatics & Tumbling – DayAndrea Thompson (May 13, 2021)
Men’s Tennis – Constantin Frantzen (May 6, 2021)
Softball – Sidney Holman-Mansell (April 8, 2021)
Women’s Golf – Gurleen Kaur (March 25, 2021)
Baseball – Andy Thomas (March 4, 2021)
Men’s Tennis – Charlie Broom (Feb. 11, 2021)
Volleyball – Marieke van der Mark (Dec. 3, 2020)
Football – Raleigh Texada (Nov. 12, 2020)
Men’s Cross Country – Ryan Hodge (Oct. 29, 2020)
Women’s Cross Country – Sarah Antrich (Oct. 15, 2020)
Volleyball – Hannah Sedwick (Oct. 1, 2020)
Soccer – Maddie Algya (Sept. 10, 2020)
Men’s Basketball – Freddie Gillespie (March 26, 2020)
Women’s Track & Field – Tuesdi Tidwell (March 20, 2020)
Women’s Basketball – Moon Ursin (March 5, 2020)
Men’s Track & Field – Cole Hardan (Feb. 27, 2020)
Volleyball – Shelly Stafford (Jan. 30, 2020)
Men’s Golf – Mike McGraw (Jan. 3, 2020)
Volleyball – Yossiana Pressley (Dec. 5, 2019)
Baseball – Nick Loftin (Nov 21, 2019)
Men’s Cross Country – Ryan Day (Nov 1, 2019)
Women’s Cross Country – Lindsay Walton (Oct. 15, 2019)
Men’s Basketball – Obim Okeke (Oct. 1, 2019)
Volleyball – Gia Milana (Sept. 17, 2019)
Soccer – Raegan Padgett (Sept. 5, 2019)
Football – Sam Tecklenburg (Aug. 29, 2019)
Men’s Golf – Cooper Dossey (July 11, 2019)
Baseball – Richard Cunningham (June 27, 2019)
Men’s Tennis – Jimmy Bendeck (June 14, 2019)
Baseball – Shea Langeliers (May 30, 2019)
Women’s Track & Field – Kiana Horton (May 22, 2019)
Men’s Golf – Garrett May (May 9, 2019)
Women’s Golf – Maria Vesga (May 2, 2019)
Acrobatics & Tumbling – Camryn Bryant (April 25, 2019)
Equestrian – Shannon Hogue (April 16, 2019)
Women’s Tennis – Angelina Shakhraichuk (April 9, 2019)
Women’s Basketball – Lauren Cox (March 22, 2019)
Men’s Track & Field – Wil London (March 7, 2019)
Men’s Basketball – Jake Lindsey (March 4, 2019)
Softball – Nicky Dawson (Feb. 21, 2019)
Baseball – Josh Bissonette (Feb. 14, 2019)
Men’s Tennis – Will Little (Jan. 31, 2019)
Men’s Basketball – King McClure (Jan. 17, 2019)
Women’s Basketball – Chloe Jackson (Jan. 3, 2019)
Football – Blake Blackmar (Dec 13, 2018)
Volleyball – Braya Hunt (Nov. 29, 2018)
Soccer – Jackie Crowther (Nov 16, 2018)
Women’s Cross Country – Alison Andrews-Paul (Nov. 8, 2018)
Football – Ira Lewis (Nov 6, 2018)

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