Felecia Mulkey put the new acrobatics and tumbling sport on the map and has both Oregon and the sport gaining huge momentum after completing her third competitive season (fourth overall) with the Ducks.
During the 2011-12 campaign, Mulkey led the Ducks to the first undefeated season in NCATA history, going 11-0, capped off with Oregon's second NCATA National Championship.
In the process, Mulkey was able to tutor three NCATA All-Americans in Natasha Katzaroff, Chelsea White and Kelsey Rowell. Tara Lubert was also named the NCATA Newcomer of the Year. In addition to the national title, Mulkey saw her team capture six individual event titles for second straight year.
Despite Oregon being awarded the No. 2 overall seed in the 2011-12 championship, Mulkey provided poise to a squad that set the NCATA record for the highest overall meet score (291.26).
After only earning three perfect scores in the 2010-11 season, the Ducks more than doubled that total under Mulkey in the 2011-12 season as Oregon picked up 21 10.0's.
Mulkey's attitude of giving 100 percent all the time transpired to her squad as Brittany Hart tore her ACL in UO's final home meet against Baylor in the team routine, but finished the routine, despite being in a tremendous amount of pain. For Hart's effort, Mulkey saw Hart become the first acrobatics and tumbling athlete to garner the Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award.
In the first season competing exclusively in the acrobatics and tumbling meet format, Mulkey delivered the inaugural National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association title to Eugene, guiding the Ducks to an impressive 8-1 record in the process.
In addition to the team title, Mulkey was tabbed by her peers as the NCATA Coach of the Year. Under her tutelage, the Ducks were the highest scoring team in the country and eclipsed 283 points in five of their last six meets. She also saw her talented squad claim six individual event national titles while junior Chelsea White became the school's first NCATA All-American.
Oregon won its first six meets of the regular season and posted the top scores in the nation in compulsory (39.79), stunt (29.54), basket toss (29.42), tumbling (55.08) and overall team score (289.204).
Despite a close setback in the regular season finale to Maryland, Oregon's strong work all season long garnered it the top seed for the NCATA Championships at Matthew Knight Arena.
From there, the Ducks picked up a semifinal win over Baylor and earned another showdown against the preseason-favorite Terrapins. This time, Oregon jumped out to an early lead and held off a late rally to cap the dream season for the Ducks.
Off the mat, Mulkey has worked tirelessly in growing the sport of acrobatics and tumbling. She is playing a key role in submitting a bid to the NCAA to gain emerging sport status. Prior to the 2010-11 season, Mulkey was a catalyst in developing the scoring format that is currently in practice in acrobatics and tumbling meets.
In 2010, UO won six meets and placed third at the National Cheerleading Association Collegiate National Championships as the stunts and gymnastics team.
Now with a new name and meet format, Mulkey has the Ducks poised to not only be an elite team in the gym, but a pioneer of the rising sport of acrobatics and tumbling.
"Last year's team provided the program with a good foundation to build on," Mulkey said. "The change to acrobatics and tumbling has changed our recruiting a little. It has allowed us to focus more on specific strengths and positions and it is opening up opportunities for women who may not have been able to compete in the previous format.
Mulkey was named the program's first head coach on May 15, 2008.
Mulkey previously built the Kennesaw State competitive cheer program into a national powerhouse. The Owls finished fourth in the 2008 All-Women's Division I Collegiate Championships after capturing national titles in 2004 and 2005.
Mulkey, a 1998 Kennesaw State health and exercise science graduate and Atlanta, Ga. native, oversaw the development of a program that finished no worse than third nationally from 2001 through 2007. Her success resulted in the program ascending to the Division I level in 2006.
Prior to transferring and taking over the head coaching reigns at the Kennesaw, Ga., school in May 1997, Mulkey cheered for two years at Southern Union State (Wadley, Ala.), and led the Bison to an eighth-place national finish in 1995.
"Felecia's credentials speak for themselves -- a two-time national championship coach and the energy that her team possessed when I went back to Daytona Beach, Fla., (site of the national championships) and watched them come out on that floor was outstanding," said then-senior Associate Athletics Director Renee Baumgartner. "Her personality and what we're trying to do at the University of Oregon, as well as on the national scene, will go a long way in positioning ourselves among the national leaders in this sport for years to come."
"If we didn't have Felecia Mulkey, it would make the process of starting this program very challenging," Baumgartner added about her new head coach. "What this hiring is going to do is allow us to be competitive on the national stage immediately, as well as get other institutions to develop the same model."
In addition to directing the Owls' spirit and competitive programs, Mulkey served as the school's sports operations director from 2007-2008. She also worked as marketing director of the American Lung Association in Smyrna, Ga., from July 1998 through July 2000, as well as the sports marketing and promotions director at her alma mater from 2000-06.
Although she has had great success in recent years, Mulkey's coaching career at Kennesaw State didn't begin quite the way she hoped for. In 1998, When the male portion of the team did not show the amount of dedication to the team Mulkey had repeatedly asked for, she removed them from the squad and took the team to all-female status.
After three tryouts the team consisted of 18 women. The majority of the team had never even thought about being a cheerleader and they came from assorted sports like track, swimming, diving, softball, and a few from gymnastics backgrounds.
KSU was part of the Peach Belt Athletic Conference at the time and the PBAC hosted a competitive cheer championship in conjunction with the men's and women's basketball tournaments. The little team that had never competed before finished fourth in the conference in a field of 11 co-ed teams and went on that year to finish 12th in the nation.
From that year on, Mulkey's team remained all-female and continued to compete in the Peach Belt Conference Championships which stayed co-ed.
In 1999, Mulkey continued to reach out to athletes that had never participated in competitive cheer and trained them in the basics and tumbling as the season went on. Some of the athletes joined the team without a round-off but would finish the year with a complete tumbling pass. The Owls improved to a ninth place showing in nationals in just their second season of existence.
The team continued to improve in both conference and national competition before the self-named KSU ‘Dirty Dozen' wowed the nation in 2002. After beginning the season with 22 particpants, the Owls had just 12 members on the squad by the time conference and nationals we scheduled. Mulkey crafted a perfect routine, highlighting the strengths of her small team. KSU placed second in the Peach Belt Conference Championships, knocking off teams with 20 members each (10 men, 10 women).
At the national competition, the ‘Dirty Dozen' shocked the nation. They took the floor like the biggest team in town and pushed on to a dazzling second-place finish. Kennesaw State was on the map and Mulkey and her girls would never let the school leave it.
After taking second again in 2003, KSU won its first national championship in 2004. Feeding off Mulkey's motto of "NOT THIS TIME," the Owls would not settle for another silver medal. Her squad came out on fire, holding first place from prelims through the finals.
Kennesaw State and Mulkey did not rest with their new success, as the Owls battled to take home a second-straight national championship in 2005 before being promoted to Division I the following season. After moving to Division I, the Owls continued their winning ways by taking two-straight third place finishes and a fourth place showing in 2008.
Mulkey proved she could win regardless of the circumstances or competition level while at Kennesaw State which was one of the main reasons the University of Oregon tapped her to create its Team Stunts and Gymnastics program from scratch.
The Mulkey File