OCU athletic officials started recruiting for a new STUNT team.
STUNT is a female sport based on the skills of cheerleading, but with crowd elements removed.
OCU’s cheer team has participated in STUNT events before, but the university will be the first college in Oklahoma to have a STUNT team separate from the cheer team. Across the country, 82 collegiate teams compete in STUNT events. The other teams in Oklahoma compete with the same members as their cheer squads.
“It’s very hard to have the same students do both cheer and STUNT because it’s physically demanding,” said Athletic Director Jim Abbott. “As NAIA created cheer as a national championship, we decided that would be our focus. As STUNT continues to grow, we see the opportunity to bring it to our university.”
Officials already hired Mandy Gerszewski, head cheer coach at St. Gregory’s University, as the new STUNT coach. Some St. Gregory’s students committed to transfer to OCU to be a part of the cheer or STUNT team, Abbott said.
STUNT is not an NAIA sport, but team members will be available for the same athletic scholarships as other athletes.
“We’ve started recruiting, but the program’s start depends on our ability to attract students who enroll in the spring,” Abbott said. “The plan is to try to compete in the spring but put together a full schedule in the fall.”
STUNT contests include four quarters that each require different components. The first quarter features partner stunts. The second is pyramid and tossing stunts. The third showcases jumps and tumbling, and the final quarter is a team routine. Each match lasts about 40 minutes.
Many OCU cheerleaders said they were excited about the new team.
“The addition of STUNT will be extremely useful for our team as a whole because it allows for athletes, outside of the 20 on the NAIA competition team, to compete and improve upon their skills throughout the year,” said Eric Capelle, music theater senior and OCU cheerleader. “This will most likely lead to both a higher level and greatly expanded program due to our goal of having completely separate NAIA and STUNT teams, with no overlapping athletes, by next year.”
Shelbi Crawford, nursing senior and OCU cheerleader, said she thinks the STUNT and cheer teams will help each other.
“OCU has always had talented cheerleaders and won many championships, so this addition will just help to get OCUs name out there even more,” Crawford said. “OCU hired Mandy Gerszewski to be the new STUNT coach for OCU, so with her help and knowledge for cheerleading, we expect to do great things this year. We’re all super excited for this new addition, and can’t wait to bring yet another championship title back to OCU.”