STUNT program hurdles its way into Rattler Athletics varsity sports portfolio

Athletics and Recreation
September 15, 2022

Up in the air

by Allie Ann Grijalva (B.A. ’21)

Toe touches, back tucks and high-air basket tosses signaled the very first practice this summer by recruits to St. Mary’s University’s newest varsity sport — STUNT. 

STUNT is a four-quarter game version of competitive cheerleading. The first three quarters focus on a specific element of competitive cheerleading, said new STUNT Head Coach Jordan Wait-Parker. Teams reserve the last quarter for a routine showcasing all skills — partner stunts, jumps and tumbling, pyramids and tosses.  

STUNT athlete performs hurdle jump during the first open practice of the season.

For Wait-Parker, coaching is more than a passion — it’s a way to carry on deeply rooted family traditions. She began coaching at her family’s cheerleading gym in Bloomington, Illinois, at just 15 years old.  

As a competitive cheerleader during her youth, she followed in her grandmother’s, mother’s and aunts’ footsteps. While competing in STUNT as a student-athlete at Davenport University in Michigan, she fell in love with STUNT and how it nurtures team camaraderie.  

“The team culture I want to bring to campus is one of a supportive, family atmosphere,” she said. “I want to showcase my athletes in the best possible way.” 

Each game begins with a coin toss, and the winner decides the skill to showcase in the first round. Teams simultaneously compete with pre-set routines. The winner of each round is awarded a point and selects the next skill.  

With the unpredictable, fast-paced nature of the sport, team members must prepare for whatever skill they could be called to demonstrate. Games can last 45 minutes, much longer than traditional competitive cheerleading’s two-and-a-half-minute routines.  

First-year Communications Studies major and student-athlete Kailey Carder, a San Antonio native, grew up competing in cheerleading competitions hosted in the Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center’s Bill Greehey Arena. Carder said having the opportunity to compete in the same space as a collegiate athlete feels like a full-circle moment.  

“Whether you are looking for academics or athletics, your opportunities are limitless. There is a lot of support for people who want to break ceilings.”

STUNT Head Coach, Jordan Wait-Parker

Wait-Parker also recruited Californian Riley Smith, a first-year Forensic Science major on the team. 

“There’s a special type of energy that you can feel on campus,” Smith said about her first impressions. “Everyone wants to be here and is very selfless.” 

Wait-Parker said she admires the opportunities that the University provides to students.  

“Whether you are looking for academics or athletics, your opportunities are limitless,” Wait-Parker said. “There is a lot of support for people who want to break ceilings.”

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