With all of the flipping, tossing, and tumbling, the Vanguard University stunt team has scarcely been able to catch their breath since they were formed last spring.
Stunt is a competitive form of cheer that focuses on techniques such as pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps, and tumbling. In the duration of a four quarter game, two teams at a time perform their routines in front of each other, and each team gains points based off of how well they execute each technique.
The stunt team is led by Coach Leslie Allen, who was hired just last year. On a team of 23 girls, only three had prior knowledge of the sport.
“Most of the team, it was their very first time to play a game . . . It was a really big learning curve for us, which we needed,” Allen said.
For now, the team has been participating in scrimmages which are practices set up in the style of an actual game, according to Allen. Their latest scrimmage was this last week against Concordia, and it gave the team a better understanding of what their first real game will look like.
According to team member Ayana Chambers, the goal of the team is to make stunt known around campus. “[We want to] introduce what stunt is to Vanguard and establish a knowledge of…what we are and what we do,” Chambers said. Team members Haven Lundy, Adriana Stockton and Anna Steinmetz spoke about their experiences competing for the first time. Lundy summarized it as being very intense and fun. Steinmetz spoke about what the scrimmage was like for the team.
“We were nervous at first, but the outcome was good, [and] even though we lost the first round, the second round was [better],” Steinmetz said.
According to Stockton, the team still has to improve before their first game on Feb. 17 versus Concordia and Cal Baptist.
“I think it went pretty well [but] we do need to work on a lot,” Stockton said.
Games are set up through USA Cheer with the dates that the school is available to host games, and then competitors sign up for matches, according to Allen. The league is open to all of the schools in California, but there is a possibility that they can have a game out of state.
According to Allen, the goal for this season is to use stunt to put Vanguard on the map, and like Chambers said, give the students an understanding of what stunt is.
“Because stunt is a relatively new sport, seeing it is so much easier to understand than explaining it,” Allen said. “After everybody understands [that] this is a women’s sport and Vanguard has added it . . . it just opens up that many more opportunities for young women to be a college athlete.”
Lundy spoke about what she is looking forward to this season.
“I’m very excited to see how far this first team gets and what we accomplish,” Lundy said.
Like the team, Allen is also excited to see what this season holds, but she also spoke about what she is nervous about for the up-coming season.
“It’s a relatively new sport to me as well . . . and I think there is still a lot to learn about coaching stunt. I think what probably makes me the most nervous is just making sure that the team is prepared,” Allen said.