An Olympic “Dream Come True”
Dr. Nancy Cummings
Dr. Nancy Cummings (second from right, back row) with the US National Trampoline Team. 2011 World Championships, Birmingham, England.
LAKELAND (Dec. 16, 2011) – The 2012 Summer Olympics are still seven months away, but FSC’s Dr. Nancy H. Cummings is already excited and deep into preparations. And who could blame her? Cummings, Physical Education Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Physical Education at FSC, will travel to London this summer as a select member of the athletic training and medical staff for the USA Gymnastics (USAG) national team. In that role, she will serve some of the nation’s top athletes.
“It’s such an honor,” said Cummings. “I am very humbled to be a part of the team.”
It has been a busy few months for Cummings. She accepted the USAG position in August 2011 and already has been twice to the Olympic Training facilities in Texas owned by renowned coach Bela Karolyi, where she worked with two Olympic Development and Training camps. In October, Cummings was off to Denmark for the gymnastics World Cup, and in November she worked at the World Championships in Birmingham, England.
As a licensed and certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist who also holds an Ed.D., Cummings exemplifies FSC’s mission of educating students through high-quality classroom instruction as well as real-world experiences.
She’s thrilled to be working on performance enhancement and injury prevention with world-class gymnasts, but Cummings is just as excited to share her experiences with her students and to see them learn from real-life applications.
“One of the best parts of all of this is collaborating with my students,” she said. “They get to come on this journey with me.”
Cummings was able to teach three FSC classes via YouTube while she was at the World Championships in November. “It was great to videotape the work we were doing live with the athletes for my classes. It was an incredible learning experience for the students,” she said.
Cummings provides training and medical support specifically for the men’s and women’s trampoline and tumbling teams, two of the five gymnastic disciplines. Three of those disciplines are now included in Olympic competition. The artistic events are the most widely watched and include such competitions as floor exercise, uneven bars, vault, and rings, among others. The second event, acrobatic gymnastics, is a competition of partners or groups of gymnasts that combines the precision of gymnastics with dance. The third, trampoline, allows for one performance per athlete and consists of 10 bounces. The gymnasts are judged on the level of difficulty, technical performance, and average height of the jumps.
While only one man and one woman can qualify for the Olympics in the trampoline event, Cummings will provide ongoing training, conditioning, and medical services for the national team, as well as for team members who will not compete at the Olympics.
Expertise in the making…
Nancy Cummings is no stranger to Olympic competition or training with the nation’s top athletes. She has worked at the Olympic level since 1989, providing support for the USA water ski team, the USA soccer team, and the USA rowing team. She was a member of the athletic training staff at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Her connections and experience are of great benefit to her students. Prior to the World Championships in November, two of her students in the Human Movement and Performance program were able to analyze the techniques of the USA and Chinese teams. FSC seniors Bryan Sbryglia and Katie Wilkerson looked at the athletes’ impact angles and how performance and fitness could be improved for the US national team. Dr. Cummings and her students made recommendations that will be implemented in team training.
According to Cummings, the Chinese gymnasts have an amazing technique that nobody else is using. She said comparisons showed some clear differences between the US athletes and the Chinese athletes. “It makes me think we can improve our technique through strength and flexibility programs which will hopefully allow us to become as competitive as some of the other countries,” she said.
Additionally, in her Functional Human Movement class, students were able to work with three local athletes who are currently on the junior national trampoline and tumbling teams, to assess and analyze their movements and to help with training program concerns. “The students were able to improve the athletes’ performance and reduce injury. I love being able to teach these types of skills to our students,” said Cummings.
Florida Southern College continues to expand recruiting of exceptional student-athletes and students interested in Human Movement and Performance.
On February 4-5, 2012, the physical education honors society, Phi Epsilon Kappa, will host “The Circus of Dreams” at Florida Southern College. The two-day event will feature a competition for 300-400 gymnasts from around the country, many of whom are already members of the junior national team or the national team. “Since the athletes will have the chance to meet our students and our campus community, it should be an excellent recruiting event for the College,” said Cummings.
Three weeks later, on Feb 25-26, the national gymnastics team will be competing in the Winter Classic event in Tampa, and many of Cummings’ students will be helping with the event.
“Many of the athletes will also come to Florida Southern to visit our Human Performance Lab where we will be able to work with them one-on-one in helping to improve their conditioning and performance. It will be great for our students and campus community to meet some of these top-ranked US gymnasts. I am really looking forward to it,” said Cummings. “The Human Performance Lab really makes FSC special at the national level. We are basically a one-stop-facility for elite athletes, where we analyze and recreate what athletes face in the national training facilities. We do testing in the lab, and we can make recommendations to improve performance and reduce injuries.”
Cummings said that FSC’s location in central Florida is also a huge plus, as many national team members live nearby and can come into the lab for training with her and her students.
“The USAG has been very open and receptive to involving my students where we can,” said Cummings. “And that’s what I am most passionate about.”
As if the national-team travel was not enough, Cummings also has two study-abroad trips planned for 2012. One group will study human performance and altitude in Costa Rica during spring break, and another will learn about the unique aspects of sport performance in Germany this summer. “They are both fantastic opportunities for our students and I am really looking forward to them.”
Cummings says there is still room available for students who want to register for the overseas trips.
She also plans to find the time to set up some type of virtual classroom, where anyone who is interested in following her to the 2012 Olympics can do so. “We will probably set up a Facebook page, and maybe a blog,” she said. “For everyone who can’t make it to the Olympics next year, it may be the next best thing!”