July 11, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr
Andrea Dearing and Dani Keathley were recently named All-American selections for stunt cheerleading, a new competitive sport that is being considered for NCAA Emerging Sport status. —Photos by Brian Blalock
While gathered in sunny California with teams from all over the country, Sam Houston State University’s nationally ranked all-girl cheerleading squad waited in anticipation to hear the results of the College STUNT Association’s STUNT competition this past March.
A new competitive sport that has derived from traditional cheerleading, STUNT removes the crowd-leading and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer, including partner stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, jumps and tumbling skills. It has been designed with the goal of being considered for NCAA Emerging Sport status and to ultimately satisfy Title IX’s requirements for intercollegiate sport.
“We are making cheer history,” said captain Andrea Dearing. “This is the first year of STUNT’s existence, and SHSU is part of the inaugural team.”
Not only is the team making history but Dearing and freshman Dani Keathley have made NCAA athletic history as All-American selections for the 2011 STUNT season.
Dearing, a sophomore geology major from Baytown, was named to the STUNT All-American “honorable mention” team. Keathley, an interdisciplinary studies major from Spring, was named to the All-American team.
SHSU’s selection to participate in the STUNT competition is an honor, as STUNT is not regular part of the collegiate cheerleading season, Keathley said.
Both Keathley and Dearing have been cheering for 10 years, as members of competitive all-star teams in independent gyms.
“I started in fourth grade at a small gym in Crosby,” Dearing said. “That was where I learned to tumble and learned the skills. “
By fifth grade, Dearing was on a senior-level team and had made the decision to be really committed to cheerleading.
“By this time I had switched gyms, which was a pretty good drive from my house,” Dearing said. “Despite that, it was important that I up my skills and get better with a good gym.”
Keathley has a similar history with cheering, being involved in all-star cheerleading for most of her life, as well as making the squad at her high school.
“I loved moving from high school cheerleading to collegiate cheering,” Keathley said. “Cheering in college seems like more of a sport than a hobby compared to high school cheer.”
Dearing noted that a major difference in collegiate cheering is the coaching, which she said pushes her to constantly improve.
“In college, the coach is still getting paid regardless of whether you stay on the team or not,” Dearing said. “You have to work a lot harder to earn a place on the team, but it’s a worthwhile effort.”
Both girls said they like that college cheerleading provides them with the opportunity to do more advanced stunts and put into practice more of what they learned at independent gyms growing up on a competitive cheerleading team.
“I’ve always been a big competitor,” Keathley said. “The STUNT competition was even more exciting for me because the main goal was to have fun. Usually the other team would be considered a rival or even an enemy, but here we were pushed to have fun and befriend the other teams. It was great to be encouraged to have fun but also pushed on what we were capable of.”
Dearing said that getting to participate at the STUNT competition also was an opportunity for the team to show what they are capable of and how much work they put into cheerleading at SHSU.
“SHSU’s all-girl cheerleading team cheers through football season, volleyball season and basketball and then we have our own cheer season,” Dearing said. “A lot of people only see what we do at football games and don’t realize the work that goes into it. We don’t get recognition for that very often, so the STUNT competition is a really great thing for the team.”
Keathley agreed, saying that she has high hopes for the team for next season.
“From what I’ve seen, I can tell we have even more talent than last year,” Keathley said. “I am very excited to see what the new team can do. I can’t wait to start thinking about a routine and see how we can impress people compared to last year. I know my teammates love this sport just as much as I do. Every person on our team is serious and committed.”
Dearing said that as captain, she hopes to see the team meet several goals for the upcoming season.
“Not only do I want to meet and exceed the skills we have, but I also want to work on team bonding,” Dearing said. “We will be a better team overall if we learn to be unified and work together better.”
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