Baylor A&T Squad Inks Former Olympic Gymnastics Champion Mary Lou Retton’s Daughter

(December 10, 2012) -- Baylor’s Acrobatics & Tumbling (A&T) head coach LaPrise Harris-Williams signed 10 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during November’s early signing period, including many that come to the program with very impressive credentials.

One highly-sought after competitor is Shayla Kelley, a Level 10 gymnast, who chose A&T over gymnastics due to the opportunities the new sport offers. Kelley (Houston, Texas) is the daughter of gymnastics Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton-Kelley.

“The attraction to A&T from these well-versed student-athletes certainly steps up our level of skill among the ranks,” said Harris-Williams. “Kelley, an accomplished gymnast, and her mom, fell in love with the sport. Mary Lou’s recognition of A&T as a viable sport for her daughter’s collegiate athletic career, and her choice of Baylor, creates a win-win for all.”

Kaelyn Cowan from Midway, a Level 10 national qualifier and Junior Olympic team member, will join her sister, current team member Hailey Cowan, as a fall 2013 freshman at Baylor.

Leading the impressive group is world champion power tumbler Kiara Nowlin of Oxnard, Calif. Nowlin, a USA Gymnastics multiple time national team member, has earned several world titles in power tumbling.

“Providing a world tumbling champion the ability to obtain a college education while doing what she is so good at is a huge plus,” said head coach LaPrise Harris-Williams. “A&T is the perfect platform for Nowlin’s talent,” she added. “Nowlin will add a level of proficiency we have not seen before. Baylor is honored to open the door to this level of athlete from another sport.”

Rounding out the heavily recruited 2013-14 class are Sarah Barker (St. Louis, Mo.), Lillian Beckwith (Simi Valley, Calif.), Alexa Crumpton (Houston, Texas), Miranda Girouard (Houston, Texas), Hannah Henke (Killeen, Texas), Kaitlyn Pecue (Fort Ann, N.Y.) and Allie Williams (Austin, Texas).

“Our team is firming up, and each signing class brings something new and exciting to the table,” said Harris-Williams. “We are fortunate to have been able to sign all of these student-athletes. They help create the new standard level of athlete, wanting Baylor University as their education and athletic experience. We are just getting started with opening the Acrobatics & Tumbling doors to attracting the highly skilled athlete.”

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