Meet BYU’s pair of ‘dunking queens’

The BYU dunk team was an all-male unit until two women, Camdyn Roberts and Emily Meeks, joined and broke the gender barrier.

While they never thought this would be a part of their BYU experience, both women love that they can use their athletic skills in a new way and inspire others.

“Shortly after joining the team, we got an email from a mom at one of the Cougar Strong performances,” said Meeks, a BYU sophomore. “And she said, ‘My daughter absolutely loved seeing the girls in the performance. She was just so excited and pumped that there was a girl there. Girls can do it too.’”

Meeks grew up in Washington as a gymnast and track athlete. She tried out for the dunk team and said the combination worked out really well.

“It feels like a lot of big brothers because they will tease you and include you in everything, and it’s just a lot of fun,” Meeks said. “It’s a fun dynamic.”

Roberts, a former pole-vaulter for BYU and a graduating senior, was the first woman to join the team a couple of years ago.

BYU dunk team coach Dave Eberhard reached out to her and said he was looking for a female addition to the team because they never had one before and he wanted the young girls at the elementary schools they perform at to relate to someone. Roberts said Eberhard is always looking to inspire people.

Camdyn Roberts dunks the ball as part of a BYU dunk team routine at Lehi High School before the pandemic. The team performs at schools around Utah County when they can, with the aim of inspiring the younger generation. (BYU Dunk Team)

“I remember watching the dunk team at basketball games and being so amazed at them,” Roberts said. “When the opportunity arose, I was like ‘Is this still real? Is this real life?’”

The teams’ synergy changed when Meeks and Roberts joined, but it has been positive for everyone involved.

“We’ve loved having them,” teammate and former gymnast Justin Wall said. “They are a crucial part of the team and completely alter the team’s dynamic in a good way.”

Meeks said the team loves having women on the team because they add a different mix. She also said five women on the team would be the ideal number for Eberhard.

“We are still looking for new girls to join all the time,” Roberts said. “I really hope there will be a bigger presence of girls on the team from now on.”

The team aims to inspire with its performances and loved performing live at elementary schools before the pandemic hit.

“I don’t want them to look at anything and say ‘It is impossible for me,’” Roberts said. “For the girls we perform for at the elementary schools, if they want to do something, I want them to try for it and go get it, even if it seems impossible.”

Camdyn Roberts dunks the ball during a routine. She was the first female to join the BYU dunk team over two years ago. (BYU Dunk Team)

Roberts’ favorite part of being on the team is dunking and Meeks said she loves to learn new tricks.

“I think part of the dunk team’s goal is to make the crowd almost feel like they’re in the performance with us and get them super engaged,” Roberts said. “For us, it’s a party.”

She said performing is a little nerve-racking, but everyone on the team is encouraging.

“When you make something, even if it’s just yourself, everyone cheers like it was them that made the dunk, which makes it so much fun to perform with everyone,” Roberts said.

Meeks has been on the team for about a year, and Roberts has been on the team for two-and-a-half years. The next dunk team tryouts will take place at the end of Winter Semester in April. The team encourages everyone to come and try out.

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