The San Dieguito Union High School District board recently approved stunt cheer as a new CIF sport for Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon High Schools, giving young women athletes an opportunity to compete in one of the fastest-growing female sports in the country.
English teacher Olivia Bogert will be heading up the stunt cheer program at Torrey Pines: “It’s a completely new program and I know the school is pretty excited,” said Bogert.
Bogert, an alumnus of La Costa Canyon High School’s class of 2014, never had the opportunity to compete in stunt but she cheered for 10 years from Pop Warner through high school. After graduating from the University of Washington she got her teaching credential at Cal State San Marcos. She has always taught in the San Dieguito Union High School District, starting at LCC where many of her former teachers were still in the classroom—it took some time to feel comfortable enough to drop the Mr.’s and Ms./Mrs.’ s.
At LCC she got to work alongside her cheer mentor Chalise Farr, coaching cheer for four years before switching to rival Torrey Pines. Last year LCC won first overall in San Diego in stunt and was second at CIF in competition cheer.
Competitive cheer was officially recognized as a CIF sport in the 2017-18 season, thanks to a bill created by former San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher. Stunt cheer really began in California in 2020 but the pandemic put everything on pause. Local high schools LCC, San Marcos and Westview started teams and were able to have one game before COVID-19 shut it down and pushed the progress back.
Stunt is categorized as a more competitive sport, it’s dance and tumbling, less of the “classic rah-rah” and more focused on the actual skills seen at the collegiate level. Some might say it’s more dangerous and Bogert said the athletes need to be well-conditioned to withstand the routines.
“If you ask the girls, the parts of cheer that they enjoy most is the stunts, the tumbling and the dancing, they don’t necessarily enjoy the screaming,” Bogert said. “Stunt cheer takes the parts that they love most about cheer and puts it into one.”
For competitions, each stunt team gets four routines that every program learns. Teams compete at a game with a referee where the teams compete side by side.
“It’s a fast-paced game and it’s very competitive and all based on strength and skill,” Bogert said.
The Torrey Pines cheer team performs at homecoming.
In stunt cheer games, the cheerleaders are not judged on facial expressions or their pony tails or makeup—Bogert said it’s purely on technique, the mastery of the routine and the level of skill displayed.
The Torrey Pines stunt team will need to get new uniforms and new mats to follow stunt protocols—the athletes can’t compete on grass, turf or gym floors without mats. The uniforms are similar to volleyball with spandex shorts and tops that the school will keep as a program set.
The school board’s approval came with $20,992 in funding for coaching grants, equipment and uniforms. Bogert said the team’s costs come primarily for referees and for access to the rights to the music used in routines (Bogert said it cost $1,200 for the rights to one 2-minute and 30-second song used in competitive cheer last season).
Planning is starting now for the season will begin in the spring. The first information meetings are expected to be held in November, followed by a clinic in December to introduce people to the sport and see what stunt is all about as it’s completely new.
Tryouts will be held in January and the first game is anticipated to be held in February—the plan is to host games with multiple schools.
“It’s all happening very quickly,” said Bogert. “I’m just happy to see cheer is moving in such a positive direction. It’s amazing to see that it is being recognized as a sport when, before, people were hesitant to do so.”