BYU Cheer & STUNT — More than just pompoms
The BYU Cheer and STUNT team leaves the sidelines behind once a year to make a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, to compete in the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National Championship.
Cheerleading has become much more than leading cheers and waving pompoms since its inception as a way to boost school spirit and motivate players. The sport has evolved to include stunts and tumbling requiring rigid technique, coordination, strength and discipline.
“These kids are athletes,” BYU head coach Jocelyn Allan said. “We’re not just pompoms standing on the sidelines.”
“There is a competition factor in cheer that most people don’t realize,” male BYU cheerleader Trey Rutter said.
Allan leans into this competition factor and takes it seriously, as she has choreographed national competition routines that landed her and her team four national championships and one international championship.
“We get one shot at nationals and that’s it,” Allan said.
“There is a different level of athleticism and body awareness that it takes to throw other people in the air and make sure they don’t hit the ground,” team member Savana Winterton said. “I wish people knew how much sacrifice and selflessness goes into this.”
Surprisingly, however, competing at nationals falls into second place on the list of priorities for BYU Cheer and STUNT, but not necessarily by choice.
“Their first priority is to support other people,” Allan said. “There is nothing more satisfying than to watch kids work toward a goal of serving other people.”
The team’s season starts in August with the fall sports and ends in April after most winter sports have come to a close.
The Cheer and STUNT team spends the bulk of its season preparing for other’s sporting events like volleyball, basketball for both the men and women and, of course, football. They run halftimes, engage the crowd while on the sidelines and recognize the athletes playing.
“My teammates literally inspire me because they are so selfless,” Winterton said. “The fact that they stand on the sideline with no recognition and cheer for other people is so incredible to me.”
Most of their practice time is dedicated to perfecting game material and any leftover time is spent rehearsing their potential prize-winning nationals routine.
Once the athletic seasons are over, the team has a brief moment to focus on their own competition, preparing to perform a routine that lasts less than three minutes.
“When you get out in front of people and you hear them screaming for you, your work and your standing on the sidelines has paid off,” Winterton said of nationals.
Allan and her talented team of athletes have high hopes to compete for a national title this year at the NCA Collegiate National Championship April 6–10.