Perspective- Pat Henderson

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In 1965 the internationally recognized US Governing (sanctioning) Body for Trampoline and Tumbling (TT) was the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union).  Jeff Hennessey was the National Chair.  In 1974, the FIT, International Trampoline Federation, officially added Tumbling and DMT, though there had already been official tumbling championships prior to this.  Plus, tumbling was an official gymnastics event at the Olympics in the 1930s.  The 1976 World Championships in Tulsa, OK, saw the debut of DMT.

In 1970, after the NCAA had dropped trampoline from the collegiate scene, the United States Trampoline and Tumbling Association (USTA) was formed to pick up the slack in promoting all aspects of the sport. It was sponsored by the Nissen Corporation (for its first 10-12) years) and the first president was, Jeff Austin.  The USTA was a secondary organization for competitive TT.  From its inception until about the early 80s, it was a huge promoter of educational aspects as well as the International World Age competition.

In 1978, the Amateur Athletic Act, brought on by a supremacy struggle between the AAU and the NCAA, gave a ruling that forced AAU to give up International Governance of most of its 21 sports.  It did, however retain international governance for TT and the others within the US as a secondary organization (somewhat like USTA, only on a larger scale).

Following the Amateur Athletic Act, the United States Acrogymnastics Federation (USAF – which included sport acro, but not its international sanction) was formed by Bil Copp (1979) and captured the Internationally recognized US governance for TT.  Within a few years, the USAF was told that, if they kept sport acrobatics as part of their program, that, they may not be considered for Olympic status.  The name was changed to American Tumbling and Trampoline Association (ATTA) and coordination with the acrobatic governing body, United States Sports Acrobatics Federation (USSAF) for combined competitions.  By 1990, the ATTA was no longer including acro in any way.

In the meantime, USTA had lost most of its clubs and athletes that needed the Internationally recognized Governing (sanctioning) Body (now ATTA).  This was needed for the athletes to represent the US in any official International competitions.

By now the ATTA had bumped up all of its coach, athlete and judge education programs, leaving USTA as a more or less three state organization.  During the 90s the USTA did an outstanding job of promotion, thus, growing its base back up and again involving many states.

At the same time, ATTA, changed its name to USA Trampoline and Tumbling (USATT).  Along the way, it took care of preparations needed for obtaining Olympic status.

In 1998-99, the organization processed into a merger with USA Gymnastics (the Governing Body for gymnastics).  At the same time, the International Trampoline Federation (FIT), was doing the same thing with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).  In 2000, with USA Gymnastics as the Internationally recognized Governing (sanctioning) Body through the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Trampoline officially acquired Olympic status and was premiered in Australia.  Athletes wishing to compete or participate in official International Olympic events, would now need to go through the USAG channels.  AAU and USTA remained as secondary organizations.

This is it in a (big) nut shell.  I became involved in TT and gymnastics in 1968 and at a National International level in the early 70s.  Sport Acrobatics was added to my resume in the early 80s.  I have seen or been involved with much of this coming to fruition.

Hope this helps out.


Pat Henderson,

Former Official of USTA, AAU TT, USAF, ATTA, USATT, USAG, FIT and FIG

It must be noted that at one time, USTA and USAF flirted separately with USSAF on merging, due to the first two having power tumbling and the latter having platform tumbling.  Most of the same athletes competed in both.  Eventually, USSAF gave up all tumbling events.  Rules were merged to retain what was thought to be the most important aspects from each type of tumbling and the holder of the Internationally recognized Governing (sanctioning) Body status for Trampoline became its custodian.

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