Pulling a STUNT: UK Athletics’ new program ready to take campus by storm

Hunter Shelton

The University of Kentucky has officially welcomed the sport of STUNT to its varsity athletics program.

One of the fastest-growing female sports in the United States, STUNT is a team-versus-team competition that centers on the technical and athletic aspects of cheer.

Interim head coach Blair Bergmann spoke to the Kernel to break down the sport of STUNT, the excitement of the season and what Big Blue Nation should expect from the team this season.

For the uninitiated, what exactly is STUNT?

Bergmann: STUNT is basically a sport that’s based in four quarters. So it takes sort of the athletic elements of cheerleading and gymnastics and moves it into a head to head format. So everyone knows pig, right? You know the game of pig, you do this shot, I copy you. Well, it’s kind of like pig except at the same time. And instead of making up your own shots, there’s predetermined routines that you can pick from. So in the four quarters, each quarter has a different category. So the first quarter category is steps, which is lifting people up, sort of doing those cheerleading aspects there. The second quarter is pyramid. So building up large structures using multiple bodies to make those and then in the third quarter, we have jumps and tumbling. So you know, people doing jumps, back flips, all those sort of fun things. And then when we get to quarter four, we combine one through three together. So now you’re doing the step routine, that jumps into tumbling routine, and then finishing with a pyramid routine. So it’s sort of the big granddaddy of them all. And then in each quarter, you have an opportunity to compete for the eight routines. So there’s four rounds in each quarter. So, as you’re going through the game, you can be doing level one, which is easiest and level eight, as well, which is the hardest. So it can kind of bounce back and forth between all eight of those routines.

What does being named interim head coach mean to you?

Bergmann: Yeah, I mean, it’s huge. It’s kind of fun because there hasn’t been a new sport added in a while. So just kind of being able to do something that’s completely brand new, yet still has that sort of name – you know, the Kentucky name. There’s a standard that comes with being part of Kentucky and then just as we’re building this team, we don’t have some of those habits already in place. There’s no culture that we need to change. We’re building our culture as we’re growing, so being able to sort of build the program right from the ground up, making sure that we’re taking care of academics, we set the standard for how we practice. I think just being the interim head coach, my job is just to make sure whatever this team does, it sets us up for the next five to 10 years. So just making sure we take each and every day at every opportunity, whether we’re out competing route, educating the public, in workouts, we want people to know that UK STUNT is going to be one of the most competitive teams on campus.

How important is the arrival of the STUNT team to UK, especially given the 50th anniversary of Title IX?

Bergmann: Being at UK is huge, because we have a very renowned cheerleading program. And that cheerleading program was a coed sport, so with one guy, one girl. So with cheerleading, there was a certain mold that you had to fit to be able to compete right at that high level. So with STUNT, what it does is it allows this other demographic of student athletes to be able to have the opportunity to compete at a high level, right. So it’s no one size sort of fits all for the type of athlete you’re looking for. We’re able to have different athletes that can specialize in just one aspect instead of in cheerleading, where you got to be good at jumps, you got to be good at tumbling. I can have someone that’s a really strong athlete, and they can just only be in pyramids, and if that’s where they shine that helps us and then I can have a couple other people that specialize, and not everyone has to be doing everything they can do one thing and they can do that one thing very well.

How competitive do you expect the team to be this season?

Bergmann: So I think our main focus this year is to put out a solid product. Being as young as we are, I don’t expect us to try to hit home runs every game. We want to be a solid team. We want to have some fundamentals, we want to compete, especially those beginner to sort of mid-levels. Whenever we’re competing, we’re either tieing or we’re winning those points, and then as the season progresses, we want to get to those more advanced levels, that’ll happen with time. I think making sure the routines we are able to do, we’re doing them well. Because if we don’t do that, then we’re not going to be competitive either way. So making sure that we’re taking care of business in routine one through three, one through four. And then being able to compete those upper levels as well I think will set us up for a pretty successful first year.

What is your pitch to Big Blue Nation to get the fans out to see the team this season?

Bergmann: I really don’t feel like I need to give a pitch to Big Blue Nation, because they do such a good job already showing up and supporting their athletics. I think our job is just to sort of tell them, ‘Hey, we’re here, you know, come see what we’re doing.’ Just any amount of support that we get, even just people recognizing that there is a STUNT team like that gets us excited after having all those practices and actually being able to go out and then seeing different fans. So I think just us getting out there letting people know that we do have a team and we need a little bit more support. We will have better weather in March than we did in February. BBN is going to be there and we are more than excited to have them there and put on a show for them.