Ashburn, Va. — Esha Nagireddi has been tumbling since she was toddling. When Nagireddi was just three years old, her mom signed her up for gymnastics, and now 15 years later, she’ll tumble her way to Spartansburg, South Carolina where she’ll join the Converse College Acrobatics & Tumbling team beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year.
“My mom always wanted to do gymnastics when she was a kid, but in India they never had the facilities for that,” the 5-foot-3 Nagireddi said. “I’ve been dreaming of being on a college team since I was five years old, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be on one of the best teams in the country.”
When their 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19, the Converse Valkyries were in second place in the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association—the national governing body for acrobatics and tumbling, working to bring the sport through NCAA emerging sport status to become a fully sanctioned NCAA championship sport.
“I chose Converse because of their top-tier academics, and their Acrobatics and Tumbling team was consistently in the Top 8 in the country,” Nagireddi said. “The moment I stepped on campus I knew that Converse would be where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. The coach and all the girls on the team were so kind and were truly a family.”
In 2021, Nagireddi and the Valkyries hope to claim their first national championship, but in order to do so, they’ll have to get through perennial powerhouse Baylor University. Luckily for Converse, head coach Keegan Johnson has experience winning national championships±—and with Baylor—helping the Bears win the 2015 National Championship while earning two event National Championships in 2015 and 2013.
“After going through ACL and meniscus reconstruction surgery last summer, I worked so hard to make my comeback, and I’m relieved that my hard work paid off—but I’m not done yet,” Nagireddi said. “I’m working even harder to make sure I contribute to Converse’s team my freshman year to help us win a national championship.”
While the drive to compete at the highest level in the country drives Nagireddi, she continues to motivate herself by knowing she’s capable of more.
“I keep myself motivated by pushing myself every day in the gym, not settling for anything else than what I know I’m capable of,” Nagireddi said. “I compete because I love this sport, and it has given me the most amazing support system and second family. Though gymnastics will always have a special place in my heart, I can’t wait for this new adventure with the sport of Acrobatics and Tumbling.”
Before joining the Acrobatics & Tumbling team at Converse, Nagireddi has one final season left as a gymnast at Rock Ridge, where she competes in the all-around for the Phoenix.
“I have absolutely loved my experience competing for Rock Ridge,” Nagireddi said. “My favorite moment was freshman year when we were runner-up for the conference championship and region championship. I love making friendships and lasting bonds with everyone on the team, helping the underclassmen with their routines, and giving my teammates pep talks before they compete.”