Two student-athletes set to compete in STUNT at the college level
June 1, 2023
In 2015, Wake County Public School System student-athletes began competing in STUNT, a sport that focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer, including partner stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps and tumbling.
The sport has grown rapidly ever since, with 16 WCPSS high schools now fielding teams.
One sure sign of the sport’s success and staying power: two WCPSS student-athletes will be competing in STUNT at the college level this fall.
Bella Cathell, a senior at Green Level High, is the first STUNT athlete in Wake County to receive a college scholarship for the sport. She will attend St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. And Teagan Wright, a senior at Heritage High, will compete on the University of Kentucky STUNT team and will be attending the school on an academic scholarship.
“It's incredible to be the first Wake County athlete to receive a STUNT scholarship, and I feel like this will open doors for cheerleaders and other female athletes who feel like they are underrepresented in college sports,” Bella says. “If you had told little 7-year-old me that something I just did for fun would provide me with the ability to continue what I love doing in college, I would've probably laughed, considering how many schools and competitive cheerleaders there are across the state. I am extremely grateful that colleges found my skills worthy enough for a collegiate team, and I am so excited to continue inspiring female athletes in Wake County.”
Teagan says she is looking forward to the added challenge of competing in the sport she loves on the college level. “In college, you can do so many more stunting skills than in high school, and I loved being in the air,” says Teagan, who is a “flyer” in STUNT. “I also fell in love with the environment and team aspect. Collegiate games have this really amazing atmosphere and energy when competing and the support that the team receives is incredible. I have always looked at team sports with the ‘we before me’ mindset, and I hope that next year I can show up for my team during and outside of practices and games. It is also exciting to be a part of the first season of Stunt as an NCAA emerging sport, and I cannot wait to see how the sport grows across the country.”
Deran Coe, WCPSS athletic director, says he hopes Bella and Teagan will be the first of many WCPSS student-athletes to compete collegiately in STUNT. “WIth the NCAA recognizing the sport, more and more student athletes will have the opportunity to continue to participate at the college level as they pursue academic and athletic success beyond high school,” says Deran Coe, WCPSS athletic director. “I am so proud of all the women who have been a part of this sport over the past eight years, which has now led to both Teagan and Bella pursuing their dreams on college stunt teams.”
Bella has been a school cheerleader since 7th grade and has participated in competitive cheerleading for a total of 11 years, but her junior year was her first full year participating in STUNT. “What really got me excited about competing in STUNT was the intense atmosphere of games,” she says. “The feeling of going on the mat and hitting either a partner stunt, pyramid, or jump and tumble is like no other.”
Her coach at Green Level, April Mack, says that Bella can be a role model for other female student-athletes. “We are in awe of everything she has accomplished and proud that she has represented Green Level so well,” Coach Mack says. “We need more cheerleaders and other females who are interested in STUNT to join STUNT programs in WCPSS and throughout North Carolina. We hope that girls across our state can look to Bella as a leader and realize that this sport may open doors for them after high school.”
Teagan was a competitive gymnast for 11 years. When the COVID pandemic hit, she decided to make a change and try cheerleading as a sophomore, then STUNT as a junior. “STUNT is more technical and more what I was used to from gymnastics, which is all about the small details,” Teagan says. “STUNT is a sport that takes focus, drive, and perseverance. There are 18 different routines at the high school level, 24 at the collegiate level. The levels take time to learn and even after learning, there are always things that can be improved upon. After the first STUNT match, I knew that this was something that I wanted to keep pursuing. The part I found the most rewarding was that feeling after a routine hit during a game, the energy in the gym was electric.”
Teagan’s coaches, Ashley Lane and Colette Tresslar, echoed Teagan about the excitement surrounding the sport. “When we reached the playoffs vs #1 Corinth Holders, our fans outdid themselves with their positive vibes and cheers routing on our girls,” they wrote. “We still get choked up thinking about it. It was an amazing show of love, support and downright fun! As we hit the hardest levels, the excitement from the team and the fans matched the energy of a college football game.”
When asked to describe what makes Teagan stand out, her coaches were effusive in their praise. “We have had so many amazingly talented cheer/STUNT athletes at Heritage, but Teagan has drive, dedication and team commitment unlike any athlete we've ever worked with before,” they wrote. “She is an exceptional team player, because even when she is not in the stunt, instead of taking a break, she will spot at the front corner of the group so that she can help count and coach the flyer on when to hit each motion. It's honestly like having a third coach, which is truly helpful when we have so much material to cover.
“Teagan has always come to us and asked for advice on what skills she needs to improve. She goes to extra tumbling lessons outside of the program, and she attended multiple collegiate stunt clinics to improve her technique. She is constantly striving for advancement. She has always set her sights on what she wanted and improved whatever she needed to get there. We have no doubt that whatever goals Teagan sets, she will exceed them. We know she will be an incredible asset to the University of Kentucky STUNT team, and we cannot wait to watch her at the next level.”