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Jun 26, 2024 | News

Northwest Nazarene Director of Athletics Paul Rush has announced the addition of STUNT as NNU’s 16th intercollegiate varsity sport.

The Nighthawks’ STUNT program is set to begin competition in the 2025-26 academic year, with NNU’s home competitions taking place in the Johnson Sports Center. A national search for a head coach to lead the new program is underway.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the launch of a new NCAA sport at Northwest Nazarene University,” said Rush. “We are thrilled to provide female student-athletes and the cheer community with a place to earn an athletic scholarship using the skills and abilities they have been tirelessly developing for many years.”

STUNT is an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women that is similar in background to competitive cheerleading. 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 routine level will be called next.

USA Cheer created STUNT as an opportunity to increase athletic opportunities for female athletes. In addition, it was designed in a way that colleges, universities, and high schools can meet the strict Title IX requirements of a sport, while still preserving traditional cheerleading. With more than 500,000 high school cheerleaders, STUNT will expand participation opportunities for young women at the collegiate level by providing an avenue for female athletes to use their cheerleading skill backgrounds in a new sport.

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.

“We at Stunt and USA Cheer are excited about the addition of STUNT at Northwest Nazarene,” said Amy Haney, the Director of STUNT for the West Region. “The addition of this sport to their athletic offerings provides opportunities for female athletes across the country, specifically the Northwest, to participate at the collegiate level while furthering their academic careers and representing the Nighthawks through competition. We look forward to coming alongside the administration and new coach to implement their program and are excited to watch it grow!”

There are currently 73 collegiate STUNT programs across the United States, including 16 at the NCAA Division I level, 29 in NCAA Division II, 16 in NCAA Division III, 10 in the NAIA, and two junior colleges. There are five other Division II institutions in the West with STUNT (Concordia, Fresno Pacific, Jessup, Sonoma State, and Vanguard) and just one other institution in the Northwest that sponsors the sport (NCAA DIII George Fox).

NNU plans to compete as an independent initially, with hopes of joining a conference in the future once enough STUNT programs are established in the region. STUNT sponsors national championship events across all divisions, so the Nighthawks will look to compete for the NCAA Division II title.

“STUNT is growing quickly across the United States and we believe NNU can be a leader at the NCAA level in the Pacific Northwest,” added Rush. “The Nampa community is going to love cheering on their home team as we work to win National Championships!”

STUNT will be NNU’s ninth women’s sport, joining basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, and volleyball. NNU fields seven sports on the men’s side: baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field.

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