He has many fans, and he is one of the best tumblers in the country.
UCF junior cheerleader Jay Hollman is well known for his tumbling abilities — his friends regularly tell him to attempt the world record for back handsprings and double fulls, a type of backflip — but if you ask him, he is not interested in breaking world records.
“I’m more into focusing on my passion and just doing what I love to do,” Hollman said. “Throughout my career a lot of people have wanted me to break the record for the most back handsprings and the most double fulls, but I haven’t gone for it yet — maybe in the future.”
A Birmingham, Alabama, native, Hollman has been tumbling for 17 years. Ever since he went to a cheer competition with his cousin when he was a 3-year-old, Hollman has been tumbling.
“I just saw all the guys flipping all over the stages and I was just like, ‘Oh, I think I can do that,’” Hollman said. “So I went back home and tried to flip off the couches and so my parents thought, ‘That wasn’t a good idea, that wasn’t safe.’ So they brought me to a cheer gym and that’s where it all started.”
In addition to cheerleading, Hollman played football and baseball until his senior year at Hoover High school in Birmingham, but his passion for cheerleading never wavered.
“I really loved it,” Hollman said. “I love baseball more than anything, and I was going to try and play baseball somewhere in college, but then I was like, ‘Nah, I love cheerleading too much.’”
Hollman did not cheer for Hoover High, but he cheered for the ACE All-Stars of Alabama, a competition team.
UCF discovered Hollman through his twitter account and followed him from his freshman year of high school through his senior year.
“We knew he was very talented because we had seen a video of him and his tumbling,” said UCF cheerleading head coach Linda Gooch. “But he was just so positive, there was nothing negative, and so we were curious.”
Hollman's teammates said he has carried that same positive attitude he fostered in high school over to the team at UCF.
“Jay Hollman is a great asset to the team — not just as an athlete, but as a role model,” said senior cheerleader Mercedes Lambert. “He’s very religious, he keeps everybody in the right mental and physical shape. He’s willing to go into the gym extra to help people, along with encouraging people to go in on Sunday morning to John Evans’ church. He’s just a great person to be around, very positive.”
Hollman attributes his success as a cheerleader to God and all of his coaches, going all the way back to his days with the ACE All-Stars.
“He is a man of modest height,” Gooch said. “But he can hang in there and stunt his weight, and if we had some of our bigger guys with the athleticism that Jay has, it would be incredible. He is an elite partner stunner.”
Standing at 5-foot-6, Hollman is one of the shortest male cheerleaders on the team, but his teammates and coaches said he is also one of the hardest workers.
“Once you become complacent with the skills that you have, it’s just never going to get better,” Hollman said. “If you aren’t falling, then you’re not learning anything because you always have to fall to know what you can do better, and you find different ways to land that skill.”
Hollman majors in sport and exercise science and after graduating he wants to attend physician assistant school. One of his other aspirations is to be a part of Cirque du Solei, a show in Las Vegas, that includes acts of acrobatics and artistry.
“I’m outgoing,” Hollman said. “I love to speak to new people, love to meet and engage in the crowd, engage into the fans. Kind of like bring a whole positive vibe and happy experience for the fans.”
Jean Racine is Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @jeangracine or email him at JeanR@CentralFloridaFuture.com