By Megan Wehring
BUDA — Finding your passion can start at a young age. As for Taylor DeLeon, she knew that she wanted to be a cheerleader when she was just five years old.
DeLeon cheered her freshman year at Hays High School and that continued through her later years at Johnson High School. As a senior, she started researching colleges in Texas that offered an excellent Occupational Therapy program and Texas Woman’s University (TWU) was the primary choice.
But, one word kept popping up during her research of the campus: STUNT.
“STUNT, the fastest growing female sport in the country,” said Jasmine Owens, STUNT coach at TWU. “It removes the crowd-leading element and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer, including partner stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps and tumbling. These elements are put together in short routines that both teams must perform head-to-head on the floor at the same time.”
It may look different compared to traditional cheer, without the pom poms and crowd noise, but it was something that DeLeon was interested in pursuing.
After getting in contact with Coach Owens, DeLeon attended a STUNT combine hosted by TWU in Denton, where there were several university coaches from all across the country watching in-person and online. Contemplating several offers, DeLeon eventually decided to sign her Letter of Commitment to STUNT at TWU.
While STUNT is popular in California high schools and colleges, it is fairly new to Texas with less than 10 universities offering the sport.
“I think there should be more options,” DeLeon said. “Nobody really knows what STUNT is and even some of my teammates are interested and ask what STUNT is because it’s similar to cheer, but it’s not cheer.”
DeLeon encourages young girls who want to participate in a program like STUNT to not let their fears get the best of them.
“Don’t be afraid to seek out combines because that’s where I got to meet people,” DeLeon explained. “Combines will be your best friend. There are so many colleges and coaches that are looking for talent and you may think that ‘oh, I don’t have tumbling, can this still be for me?’ Yes, it can still be for you. I don’t have tumbling [experience]and I made it, because they still need back spotters.”
Owens agreed that girls who are interested in joining need to put themselves out there to multiple colleges.
“STUNT expands participation opportunities for young women by providing an avenue for female athletes to use their cheerleading and/or gymnastics background in a new format,” Owens said. “This sport is exciting and pushes girls to become the best athlete they can be.”