by Brady Johnson
Oregon Athletic Communications
EUGENE, Ore. – It’s hard to imagine any coaching trees would be growing in a sport just five years old at the collegiate level. But, boy, has UO acrobatics and tumbling head coach Felicia Mulkey ever gotten a head start at one.
After doubling in size since last season, the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association features 11 teams. From that field, four head coaches and three assistant coaches are UO graduates and former student-athletes of Mulkey's. An additional two coaches came out of Mulkey’s system at Kennesaw State.
A tri-meet on Sunday in Matthew Knight Arena will reunite Mulkey with two former student-athletes, both of which are now head coaches at first-year programs. Mulkey and the undefeated Ducks host Alderson Broaddus, coached by 2010 UO graduate Jacqueline Svadeba, and Hawaii Pacific, coached by 2012 UO graduate Keenyn Won, at 2 p.m. (PST) Sunday.
Mulkey said that it’s a great feeling seeing former athletes succeed at the coaching ranks. She just hopes that Svadeba and Won aren’t too successful Sunday.
“It’s kind of like competing against your child,” said Mulkey with a laugh. “You want them to do really, really well – just not outscore you.”
Svedeba first competed for Mulkey at Kennesaw State’s competitive cheer team, where she earned All-American honors. When Mulkey was named head coach at Oregon the following season, Svadeba followed and helped guide the Ducks to a third-place finish at nationals in their inaugural season.
Svadeba was named an assistant coach at Quinnipiac after graduating, and spent two years there before landing her head coaching job at Alderson Broaddus – a Division II school in Philippi, W. Va.
Won competed for Mulkey at Oregon between 2010 and 2012, helping the Ducks to consecutive NCATA National Championships. After leaving the sport for a year upon graduating, the perfect opportunity arose to pull the Honolulu, Hawaii, native back to the sport. Hawaii Pacific, a Division II school located in Honolulu, decided to sponsor acrobatics and tumbling, and Won was the perfect fit for the opening.
Although they might not have realized it as student-athletes, Mulkey said she saw great potential in coaching for both Svadeba and Won. So, yes, it will be a reunion of sorts for the coaches before the meet, but as soon as 2 o’clock hits – it’s game time.
“I’m beyond excited to return to Oregon and see old friends, teammates and coaches, now colleagues,” said Won. “Although there will be a lot of smiles, hugs and old stories before the meet, it’s strictly game time when I’m with my team across the mat from Oregon.”
UO’s biggest motivation for the tri-meet may come in another form, however, as the Ducks will be competing at MKA for the last time this season. After the tri-meet, Oregon will honor five seniors; Erin Block (Midlothian, Va.), Zakia Houston (San Jose, Calif.), Natahsa Katzaroff (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), Kelsey Leslie (Alison Viejo, Calif.) and McKenzie Wilcox (Salem, Ore.).
Attempting to become four-time national champions, this year’s senior-class is as deserving of senior day merit as any Oregon has to offer.
“More importantly, it’s our last home meet and senior day, and we want to send our seniors off in style,” said Mulkey. “We also want this meet to catapult us into our busy spring break trip coming up.”
Riding a 24-meet win streak, the Ducks are looking to remain undefeated all-time competing at home. Off to a 3-0 start to the season, the Ducks and Fairmont State are the last remaining unbeaten teams in the NCATA. Oregon opened by defeated Baylor before claiming a pair of wins in a tri-meet with Quinnipiac and Azusa Pacific.
Following Sunday’s tri-meet, UO will close the season with four straight meets away from home. Oregon will compete three times in five days on its spring break trip, battling Fairmont State (March 24), Alderson Broaddus (March 25) and Baylor (March 29).