STUNT cheer becomes NCAA sport

On Jan. 14, the National Collegiate Athletic Association(NCAA) recognized STUNT cheer as an official NCAA sport. Starting Aug. 1, 2023, STUNT cheerleaders will be eligible for scholarships and financial aid. Bre Gonzalez, head coach of the NPHS STUNT team, explained what makes STUNT a sport to her. “Both [teams are] going up [against each other] with the same routines and whoever has it more perfected ends up winning. It’s way more competitive in that aspect than the average spirit or sideline cheer is.”

Gonzalez shared her take on the updated status of the sport. “STUNT just became an official sport. It [has] way more of a game aspect [compared to the other cheer teams]. You actually win points, there’s strategy to it.” Gonzalez continued, “It’s a lot of practice, it’s a lot of hard work, similar to regular cheer, sideline cheer, and competition cheer, but in this aspect you are playing another team.”

Gabi Prusinski, junior on both spirit and stunt cheer teams, commented on the differences between the two. “It’s totally different [than spirit cheer] because STUNT is more competitive. In spirit we just cheer on sports, but with STUNT you compete against other teams to win something,” Prusinski said.

STUNT cheer is included in the athletic programs of 51 higher education schools. Gonzalez also described the situation, “In order to be considered a CIF sport you have to have a certain percentage of schools in your area participate in it and I don’t think we hit that mark until recently. Also it had to do with Title Nine rules and laws and bringing that into play, so there’s a lot of different things in the mix that caused it to take a little longer than the average sport,” Gonzalez said.

Madison Klein, junior and STUNT cheerleader, spoke about how CIF recognition of STUNT cheer as a sport affects her team. “It was already classified as a high school sport but now colleges can recruit people, so that’s kind of changed the mindset for the people on the team and about pursuing this in college,” Klein said. Gonzalez further commented on this development stating, “Hopefully [they can] get scholarships off of this and attend college for a lot cheaper, do something they love and be able to be recognized as an official athlete on campus. A lot of times sideline cheerleaders are not recognized as official athletes but [now] STUNT members will be,” Gonzalez said.