Veterans Laying Future Foundation for UK STUNT Program
Every pyramid is built on a strong foundation. The Kentucky STUNT team is currently laying that type of groundwork for the university’s newest sport.
Kentucky is the 56th school in the country to add STUNT, a form of cheerleading where teams go head-to-head, to their athletic program. Kentucky now has 23 varsity sports.
While many of these women were drawn to UK for its 24-time national champion cheerleading squad, they knew it wasn’t in the cards for them to make that team. When they found out about the STUNT club on campus, they saw the opportunity of still being a part of the sport that they loved.
Senior base Jordan Redding said that she didn’t want to give up a sport that she’s been involved with for 12 years.
“One of my friends actually sent me the flier for the STUNT team and they’re like ‘Jordan you’ve cheered forever this might be something that you’re interested in,'” Redding said. “Then I tried out that week and joined the team. It was just a way for me to do the sport that I’ve done my whole life basically, obviously a little bit different, but just the way to get back into it without being a cheerleader.”
Some of those who were on the club team tried out for the varsity team and made the squad.
Being a part of a team has always been important to equipment manager Claire Kolkman even if she’s not wearing a uniform. Kolkman has been cheering since sixth grade but suffered a neck injury her senior year of high school. She went to the club’s open gym to try out, but she knew there was no way she could participate. While it was discouraging, she didn’t want to give up on the chance to be part of the team.
“I was very upset because it’s something that I loved and wanted to continue, but I reached out and asked to be part of the exec team and they said yes,” Kolkman said. “Being able to be a part of it without actually doing stuff so it was really nice to still belong, still be a part of the team, but in a way that I could still be doing it.”
The STUNT club knew that there was potential for Kentucky to add STUNT as a varsity sport, on the Division I level. However, Redding didn’t think it would happen for a while.
“It was something we’ve been working on for the past three years,” said Redding. “I’m a senior now, so it wasn’t supposed to happen until after I graduated so seeing it happen my senior year and everything is honestly breathtaking.”
Kentucky is the first SEC school to add STUNT to their varsity lineup and senior Jordan Marion thinks that more schools in the conference will follow.
“I think if we go out and put on good performances and other schools start to see us, I feel like we’ll gain a following from that and they’ll be like ‘Oh, that’s cool,'” Marion said. “I think that we could definitely become an SEC sport with stunt and, honestly, I could see an SEC Championship down the line.”
The UK STUNT team has received lots of positive feedback. Senior back spot Elizabeth Larkin is grateful for the opportunity.
“Thanks to everyone at UK Athletics for backing this sport because it’s not a big sport,” Larkin said. “Barely anybody even knows about it, but they’re putting a lot of trust into us to get the program to be a big deal.”
The next STUNT game will be hosted by Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, March 12 at 11 a.m. against Ashland. Admission is free to the public and fans can come see the foundation being built for UK’s newest sport.