Flipping Out for 75 Years

Gymkana Troupe Has Taken a Healthy Message to New Heights
By Annie Dankelson | Photos by Tyler Ecker and courtesy of University Archives

For three-quarters of a century, Gymkana has jumped through hoops—and balanced on beams, twirled on ladders and leapt through fire—to share its message.

The team of tumbling Terps, formed in 1946 to promote gymnastics and acrobatics, has performed hundreds of soaring shows for UMD, the USO and even “America’s Got Talent.” Amid the synchronized spins and feats of flexibility, Gymkana’s mission has evolved: The group took an anti-drug stance in the ’80s, with members today encouraging overall healthy lifestyles as School of Public Health ambassadors.

To honor its anniversary, we backflipped into the past with University Archives and troupe leaders to show some of its high-flying highlights. Following COVID-caused cancellations this season, members raised over $46,000 in February during a LaunchUMD crowdfunding campaign, and gymnasts past and present joined together in April for a virtual show.

“Gymkana is an incredibly unique program that has a long legacy,” says Assistant Director and Coach Ben Prescott.


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