Ashland University Director of Athletics Al King announced on Monday (Oct. 21) afternoon that STUNT will be added to the roster of intercollegiate programs, bringing the total of AU teams to 24.
Eagle STUNT will begin play in the 2020-21 academic year.
"For the past several years we've studied various options to increase opportunities for female student-athletes," King said. "STUNT appears to have the potential for significant growth, particularly in our region of the country. Our coaching staff became involved with USA Cheer and STUNT over a year ago and has invested a great deal of time and energy learning about the sport. As is the case with all of our athletic programs, we will work as hard as we can to build a quality product and provide the best all-around experience possible."
STUNT, a form of competitive cheerleading, is being played at the college level by 14 NCAA institutions as a varsity sport, and by 26 NCAA schools as a club sport. NCAA Division I has its own national championship, and Divisions II and III have a combined national championship.
Nine non-NCAA schools also have STUNT – six NAIA varsity, one NJCAA varsity and two CCCAA.
STUNT 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. The team that executes the skills best wins the round and the point, and has the opportunity to determine which of routine level will be called next.
Each game of STUNT consists of four quarters of play, with a halftime. The first quarter is partner stunts, the second quarter is pyramids and tosses, the third quarter is group jumps and tumbling, and the fourth quarter is team performance.
With the addition of STUNT, Ashland will have a STUNT team, dance team and sideline cheerleading team. Ashland's cheer and dance head coach is Denise Farnsworth, and the Eagles' assistant coach is Brandy Marquette. Both Farnsworth and Marquette have USA STUNT Team Training Certification, which is renewed every year. Farnsworth also has USA STUNT Official Certification, and was the referee for the first STUNT games played in Ohio on Feb. 3, 2019.
Ashland will join Davenport as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference institutions which sponsor STUNT. Grand Valley State and Ferris State have club STUNT teams. The GLIAC will be able to sponsor a conference STUNT championship once six league schools sponsor the sport.
In Ohio, Ashland will join Tiffin, Hiram and Ursuline as universities which either currently offer STUNT, or will by 2021.
STUNT, which is a spring sport, was established by USA Cheer, the national governing body for all disciplines of cheer.
Ashland University STUNT competitions will take place in Kates Gymnasium.
"Since Denise arrived as our head coach we've hosted a number of competitive cheering events at Kates Gymnasium," King said. "Each one of those events brought huge crowds. The camps and clinics she has directed have also been well attended. That helped make the case that the time is right to add STUNT."
ASHLAND UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC TEAMS, BEGINNING IN 2020-21 (24)
WOMEN (12) – Basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, STUNT, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and volleyball.
MEN (11) – Baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and wrestling.
CO-ED (1) – esports.
Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.