Beavers fly high in a new sport

The sport is called STUNT. It’s a fast-growing women’s sport that incorporates cheerleading skills. Buena Vista University fielded their first team this school year — the only team in Iowa — and now, deep into the season, they’re fifth in Division III.

On Monday afternoon, they returned home from a “game” in St. Louis, Mo. This weekend they’re going to Springfield, Mo.

“The first year I was hired they talked about having a stunt team, but the numbers and the skill weren’t there,” says coach Kezia Molinsky. “This year we felt like we could do it, so we took the plunge.”

Jump, literally. As with most sports, there are positions. The “Flyer” is the girl at the front, who often finds herself 10 feet in the air, assisted by “Main Base”, “Side Base” and/or “Back Base” teammates.

Then the flier drops, confident that she will land in the arms of the bases.

In STUNT, teams compete in a four-quarter head-to-head race, with each team earning points based on skill execution.

That’s one of the things Molinsky likes most about the sport. “Your skills and athletic ability are more important than your looks,” she said. You don’t have to smile. They don’t cheer. They don’t usually wear makeup. You cannot wear bows in your hair. And as she says, “All shapes and sizes can participate.”

The women focus on the skill and technical elements of the sport, including partner stunts, team routines, pyramids, field shots and more.

STUNT teammates practice at Seibens Fieldhouse.

STUNT teammates practice at Seibens Fieldhouse.

Rock Rapids’ Emma Chase suffers a black eye after a flyer pushed her the wrong way on the way down. Chase points to bruises on her arms.

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She and her teammates lift weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s not a sport for the faint of heart. Before performing a stunt, they position themselves silently. You prepare yourself mentally.

“I like the depth,” says Bailey Houston, a graduate of Sioux Central High School.

“She’s a great trainer,” says team member Mary Woodard of Woodward, of Molinsky. “She’s very welcoming, but she’s serious when she needs to be serious.”

In addition to her STUNT coaching duties, Molinsky is Director of Cheer and Dance. She is in her 28th year as a coach and came here from San Francisco, California.

Most of their STUNT team members come from cheerleading backgrounds. Others have experience in tumbling or dancing.

And their hopes are high that they will make it to the Nationals in Dallas, Texas.

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