What is STUNT? Ashland University’s newest sport

Eagles open up Great Midwest Athletic Conference play in 2023


Cade Cracas

The Eagles continue to practice for the upcoming season. They can be seen doing an “elevator”, a skill used in the first quarter of a contest.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Great Midwest Athletic Conference has officially announced that the sport, STUNT, will officially be a championship sport in the conference for the 2022-2023 academic year.

However, with this sport taking the nation like a storm, what is it?

STUNT was officially announced as a collegiate sport in the spring of 2011, with originally just 21 programs involved. Now, as 2022 approaches its close, there’s a grand total of 61 schools with STUNT as a program. Ashland University kicked off its first complete season in 2022. 

STUNT is a form of competitive cheerleading that consists of four quarters of play that are individually graded by three judges. These quarters consist of positions such as flyers, back spots, bases and tumblers.

The first quarter consists of four rounds of partner stunts. This consists of usually two to three groups per team. These stunts are used with a flyer, a back spot and two bases to perform primarily grounded tricks.

“A base is the foundation under the stunt itself. A base needs to be strong in form and skilled with technique! The purpose of the base is to provide support and stability underneath the top girl,” said senior base Shila Hartzler. “As a base, it is incredibly important to be strong, consistent and confident when throwing skills so they hit every time. It’s all about keeping your top girl safe and controlled in the air so she can do her skills while you do yours underneath. It’s all about trust.”

The second quarter of play consists of tosses and pyramids. A toss is where the flyer will be tossed into the air to perform a trick and then be caught by the bases and back spot. A flyer may twist or flip in the air during the trick. A pyramid is when those small groups, a flyer, a back spot and two bases, all combine to create a huge formation. This formation, more than likely, will have the flyers working together to put a huge trick on.

“There are several aspects to flying that people wouldn’t know or understand at first glance. For example, flyers have to know where they are at all times while in the air. If they don’t they can easily lose where they are and in turn, they lose technique and balance, which then poses a risk to everyone in the group,” said junior flyer Lily Boldman. “Another aspect that is overlooked would be how flyers have to hold their own body weight. If a flyer does not know how to do that, then she becomes heavier to her bases. Another incredibly important aspect of a flyer’s job would be the trust she puts in her group.”

The third quarter sees jumps and tumbling. This is a more simple quarter to understand. Those involved will perform a routine consisting of cartwheels, rolls, flips, back-hand springs and many other varied forms of tumbling. In this set, the audience will see seven individuals from each team performing their routine.

“It is very technical. A lot of individuals come from a cheer background with more tumbling experience than stunt experience,” said sophomore tumbler and flyer Chloe Colvin. “Everyone can do the skills and do them well, so this quarter is focused on the technical flaws and little details that can make or break a routine. Something as small as having your feet slightly apart in a tumbling pass can lose a point for the team.”

The fourth and final quarter showcases everything, from quarters one to three, put into one giant routine. This will see partner stunts, pyramids and tosses, and jumps and tumbling.

“Throughout all of these quarters, it’s important to have strong bases, back spots, flyers and tumblers,” said sophomore back spot Paityn Gutkowski. “As a back spot, we help to ensure these stunts go up into the air and relieve stress from the bases when performing aerial tricks.”

These four quarters of play are graded by steps taken after tumbling or stunting, the timing of stunts, technique while doing tricks and making sure STUNTs are completely finished. Points are awarded to the team that performs their stunts and tricks the most accurately.

Quarters one through three see a max of four points available to be given, while the fourth and final quarter allows teams the opportunity to get nine. The maximum per match is 21, which would be a perfect game.

With an intense amount of action occurring through four quarters, proper leadership and coordination is needed to make this happen. Alongside Head Coach Denise Farnsworth and her coaching staff, the Eagles implemented a leadership team. One of those athletes apart of the leadership team is Hartzler.

“By being a leader you can provide support, and encouragement, and be an example to younger teammates. Our leadership team has a passion for our program, our team, and STUNT the sport itself,” Hartzler said. “They just embody what AU STUNT is all about and reflect it in their everyday lives.”

As Farnsworth heads into her third season at the helm of the Eagles she continues to bring in new talented athletes while growing the cast she has put together so far.

“As a team we have many expectations for this upcoming season,” Farnsworth said. “Now that we have completed a full season I am excited to see my returning girls really grow into confident players that are really attacking the mental side of the game as well.”

The Eagles look to kick off their season on Feb. 11, 2023, when they take on the Ursuline Arrows at 12 p.m.

“We are hosting the very first GMAC STUNT Championship here at AU and are focusing on the importance of that event,” said Farnsworth. “And what it is going to take for us to bring home the championship this year.”