Jalyessa Walker
Jalyessa Walker

Thirty-five is the record, but 50 is the goal.

"I'm doing 50 so nobody else can touch it," said Jalyessa Walker, a former UTEP cheerleader who will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for backflips this evening during the halftime of the UTEP-Rice football game in Sun Bowl Stadium.

Walker, who was a member of the UTEP cheerleading squad that won a national championship in 2011, is trying to break the record for consecutive backflips set in October by a 16-year-old Texas high school cheerleader, Miranda Ferguson.

"My mom told me another kid broke the record," Walker said before practice at the stadium. "I've been flipping since I was 4, so I thought I could beat it. That's why I'm determined. I've been a gymnast since I was 4 years old, so challenges are pretty much what I live for."

Victor Martinez

Walker, who is now 2nd Lt. Walker in the U.S. Army, was a Level 9 gymnast growing up.

"I wanted to do gymnastics at UTEP, but they didn't offer it. But I wanted to stay home, so I just cheered," she said.

Walker said her experience cheering in front of thousands of UTEP football and basketball fans should help her today.

"Since I cheered here, I know how it is to tumble in front of thousands of people," she said. "I hope a lot of people come out not only for me but for the football team. I'll be able to feed off their energy, too."

It'll also be the last game for head coach Mike Price, who announced his retirement on Monday.


"She's done 45 in row before, but she's going for 50," said Joleen Walker, her mother. "She wants to make it harder on anyone else who wants to break it. She could do more, but the problem is she starts running out of field."

Jalyessa Walker, who graduated with a degree in kinesiology in May, has been training for about a month.

"The toughest part will be my legs getting tired," she said. "My thighs start to hurt a little bit from pushing off them to get back up. My mom -- I call her my coach, too -- said, 'You better work on your cardio and your legs,' so I have."

If there is a disadvantage, it's the time she took off from training to attend the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Lee, Va.

"I went to Virginia for school in the Army and I hadn't tumbled in four months, and then I came back out and started to train, so I went from doing nothing to a crazy month of training determined to do 50," she said, laughing.

What also concerns her is the tendinitis in her wrist.

"I also have bad knees and ankles, but I love it," she said. "If I fall -- and I've fallen plenty of times -- I just get up and laugh at it and just keep going. I've cracked and chipped bones in my foot and sprained my ankle, but I keep pushing."

The energetic 23-year-old does not lack confidence, which she also hopes will push her past the record.

(Ruben R. Ramirez / El Paso Times)

"I'm pretty confident right now, but because my wrist is hurting, I'm just hoping the pain goes away by Saturday," she said.

"Other than that I feel OK. I've done 30 in a row so far, but I can do more. For some reason, I always stop at 30. That's where I hope the crowd gets into it. Once I do it in front of the crowd, I won't have a reason to stop. When I'm out here all by myself it's easier to stop."

Victor R. Martinez may be reached at vmartinez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6128. Follow him on Twitter @vrmart.

Make plans
  • What: 2nd Lt. Jalyessa Walker, a former UTEP cheerleader, will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for backflips. The record is 35.
  • When: Halftime of today's UTEP-Rice football game. Game time is 5 p.m.
  • Where: Sun Bowl Stadium.
  • Tickets: Start at $15.
  • Area world records

    Here are some recent world records achieved by area residents or organizations.

  • Guinness World Record for longest skewer of kebab. 28 feet, 7 inches of lamb set by El Pasoans Leon and Lettie Ekery and their children Warren and Amanda on Easter Sunday 2011.
  • Guinness World Record for the largest "YMCA" dance. The 49,037 fans at the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2008, danced when the Village People performed during halftime of the Brut Sun Bowl.
  • Guinness World Record for most triathlons. At the time, El Pasoan Flip Lyle had completed 268 triathlons and a staggering 357 multi-sport events in 2008.
  • Guinness World Record for largest, flat, three-layer enchilada. Robert Estrada in 2000 at the annual Whole Enchilada Fiesta in Las Cruces. The enchilada was about 10.5 feet in diameter and was created using 750 pounds of corn, 175 pounds of grated cheese, 50 pounds of chopped onions and 75 gallons of red chile sauce.