A dunk team for all — Welcoming women into the world of acrobatic basketball
The BYU dunk team has been around for many years, but female students just recently began to join the ranks. This year, the dunk team has two female students who help lead the team in electrifying performances in the Marriott Center and elsewhere.
Meet Alexa Frost and Caroline Allen.
Frost, 20, is a sophomore from the San Francisco Bay Area studying exercise and wellness. Frost did gymnastics growing up and wanted to compete in college but was unable to because of injuries. After coming to BYU, Frost needed something to do.
“I was just trained my whole life to have practice every single day and have something that I’m working toward every single day,” Frost said.
One day at the end of the Winter 2021 semester, Frost was studying in the library. While looking around, she saw a flyer for dunk team tryouts. While her initial reaction was to try out as a joke, once there, she realized this was something she was excited to put her time and energy into.
Allen, 21, is a senior from North Carolina who is also studying exercise and wellness. Allen started gymnastics when she was four years old and competed all the way through high school. She also did track and field, competing in the high jump, long jump, 100-meter sprint and pole vault.
A friend of Allen’s who was already on the team approached her in January 2021 and encouraged her to try out, so she began practicing with the team to see if it would be a good fit. After practicing for a while, Allen officially tried out and was invited to join the team.
Frost and Allen both expressed the intimidation they felt when first joining the team.
“All these guys are so good and they’ve been on the team for years,” Frost said.
Allen said while the men on the team may have seemed intimidating at first, they always tried to help the women feel like they belonged on the team.
“They are super sweet and they’re really inclusive,” Allen said. “They go out of their way to make sure that we know what we’re doing or give us little tips and pointers to get better and to just be the best that we can.”
Being a woman on the dunk team brings challenges, but the male teammates are always willing to help Frost and Allen feel like they can do anything.
“You have to step out of your comfort zone a lot to make extra practices,” Frost said. “We’re just trying our best and everyone else messes up too.”
Why have women only recently started to join the dunk team? Allen and Frost believe it is because of a lack of advertising and knowledge that the dunk team is for all students.
Camdyn Roberts and Emily Meeks were the first women to join the BYU dunk team in the 2020–2021 season, and Allen and Frost are now following in their footsteps.
“I remember watching my freshman year. The dunk team was out during the halftime show and it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to be on that,” Allen said. “But there were no girls, and I didn’t know if I could try out.”
Part of being on the dunk team means performing at schools around the state. Having female dunkers brings a different dynamic to these performances.
“The connection that they have with the kids is in my opinion better than the male connection,” said David Eberhard, coach of the BYU dunk team. “When they see them flying through the air and dunking and flipping and twisting and tricking they’re like, ‘Girls can do everything guys can.'”
“Any girl should try out!” Allen said. “If you have some sort of flipping background or if you like dancing or whatever it is, David can find a spot for you.”