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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

New varsity STUNT team to start competing in spring semester

BW STUNT, a new varsity sport for the upcoming 2023-24 season.
Nick Irelan
The BW STUNT team practices for the upcoming competition season.

BW STUNT, a new varsity sport for the upcoming 2023-24 season is set to have its inaugural match on Feb. 2 at Trevecca Nazarene University’s Trojan Fieldhouse against Walsh University and Malone University.

STUNT was announced as an upcoming varsity sport in late 2022 by Steve Thompson, the director of athletics.

According to USA Cheer, STUNT stands out as one of the rapidly growing female sports in the nation and is a unique sport that eliminates the crowd leading aspect of cheer, instead focusing on cheer’s technical and athletic components. STUNT incorporates partner stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps and tumbling.

Gretchen Toddy, the head STUNT coach, has coached cheerleading since 1985 and said that as STUNT’s mechanics resemble those of cheer, the skills are transferrable.

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“STUNT has taken the athletic components of cheer and re-crafted them into a four-quarter game that meets all requirements for Title IX,” Toddy said. “So, in essence, I have been coaching these skills as they have developed over the years.”

The elements such as pyramids and tumbles are put together in short routines that both teams must perform head-to-head on the floor simultaneously. The team that executes the skills most effectively claims the round and the corresponding point.

Toddy said the STUNT team has been preparing physically as they approach the new season.

“Skill training begins with physical training,” Toddy said. “STUNT athletes must have a solid base of strength and flexibility to perform the skills safely. Coach Frank Rusieki, lead strength and conditioning coach, assists in training our athletes in the weight room.”

The physical training for STUNT includes STUNT specific programs, such as tumbling classes, Toddy said. Toddy said she advocates not only physical training for the team but also mental training. “I also train on mindset. The mental game, I believe, is even more important than the physical,” Toddy stated. “Without a great level of trust, a STUNT athlete will not be appropriately equipped to succeed.”

During the recent 2024 NCAA Convention, the NCAA approved the proposal to designate Division III STUNT as an emerging sport. According to the NCAA, emerging sports are “a women’s sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sport sponsorship options for the institutions, and also help that sport achieve NCAA championship status.”

BW STUNT is set for their first-ever home match against Heidelberg University on Feb. 23. 

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