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Andrews Hosts 20th Annual Acrofest

Date: December 7, 2011

“He Could Have Said No, But He Said Yes” was the theme for this year’s 20th annual Acrofest hosted at Andrews University, Nov. 10–12, 2011. This annual event brings Seventh-day Adventist gymnasts from institutions across the country and around the world together for spiritual renewal and a chance to collaborate with other gymnasts.
Nearly 1,000 gymnasts and their coaches attended this year’s Acrofest. Teams came from as far away as Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico and Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. The 26 participating teams represented academy teams, some private gymnastic programs and seven Seventh-day Adventist college teams.
Israel Falcon is the head coach of the Akro-Lites, a team from Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The Akro-Lites is an example of a program that isn’t affiliated with any particular institution, but operates as a ministry helping kids with a range of challenges from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to obesity. “We offer a motivational program where we teach moral and Christian values and give them an organized structure in their lives,” he says. “Events like this show them what knowing Christ can do for them and how their goals can be achieved if they work hard.”
Gymnics head coach Christian Lighthall says, “The theme this year was, ‘He Could Have Said No, But He Said Yes.’ It emphasized the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for mankind.” Daily worship sessions and special guest speaker Matthew Gamble set the tone for a weekend focused on spiritual renewal. Meanwhile, the many workshop stations and opportunities to collaborate with gymnasts from other institutions offered gymnasts a chance to hone their technical skills.

Participants attended workshops and clinics, such as “Pyramids” and “Human Video” in Johnson Gym, Beaty Gym and the Andrews Academy gym. “Human Video” is a new witnessing tool, according to Coach Lighthall, that uses tumbling moves and formations to depict a Biblical theme or story. “For example, we’ve portrayed Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. A group of gymnasts on either side of ‘Moses’ waving their arms back and forth create the imagery of waves being held back by invisible hands. We’ve also reenacted the ministry, trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ—all with tumbling moves and formations, and no words.” Each team created their own Human Video project and all the pieces were incorporated into Friday night’s worship.
Acrofest culminated in a live sold-out finale in Johnson Gymnasium featuring performances by 24 of the participating teams. “Our goal is to maintain a spiritual focus in sport but also become better athletes,” says Lighthall. “This was a way to do both.”
The first Acrofest was held in 1991 at Andrews University. Under the leadership of Coach Robert Kalua, that first Acrofest drew 600 gymnasts and their coaches. By creating a non-competitive atmosphere, Coach Kalua helped establish opportunities for quality instruction and aimed for education and team development within the Seventh-day Adventist educational system. Each year, a different Seventh-day Adventist institution hosts Acrofest. This year marks the fourth time it was hosted at Andrews University.

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