California Baptist University’s newest STUNT Team enters the cheer world with a point to prove despite facing COVID-19 challenges affecting the team dynamic.
Brandon Seagondollar, head STUNT coach, started at CBU by helping coach the seven-time national championship cheer team. Moving into a head coach role of a new team, Seagondollar said he feels pressure to maintain the successful legacy of the program.
“The pressure of being head coach is really me wanting to develop them as athletes. The pressure of the athletic portion is being successful,” Seagondollar said. “As long as the girls do their best and as long as I do my best, then we will be successful. They put in the work, day in and day out. They grind, they’ve learned their routines, they’ve learned what they needed to do and they’re ready to go.”
Memory Reardon, senior early childhood studies major, said she believes the team puts a lot of pressure on itself to do well.
“There is a little bit of added pressure being a new team, but I believe it comes from us girls. We are all competitive and want the best for our program. If we can start off our first year strong then that will set the tone for the years to come,” Reardon said. “And I believe we will have a winning record. Coach Brandon has made sure that we are prepared for anything that may be thrown our way.”
The team had an unconventional start to its first season as COVID-19 canceled a lot of first games and events. COVID-19 added to the normal trials of building a new sports team. Seagondollar said the pandemic slowed down team bonding but made the team prepared for any obstacle it may face in the future.
“Usually we get together over summer; we get to know each other. We’re able to do some team bonding things, more team activities,” Seagondollar said. “And that’s been put on hold due to COVID-19. Because of trying to abide by safety protocols and just still being able to keep the athletes safe. But one thing that COVID-19 has done has built us up to be prepared for anything to happen. We have now learned to not stress about the things we don’t have control over and put it into God’s hands.”
Vanessa Copeland, junior kinesiology major, said that despite any pressures the team is very excited to compete and has still managed to bond during the pandemic.
“Our team dynamic is unique but very genuine,” Copeland said. “Because of COVID-19 we have had to miss out on a lot of regular team bonding events we would have had, but any time we do get to spend together is very organic and genuine.”
The team beat Vanguard 18-5 at home on Feb. 17 and Concordia 17-8 away on Feb. 19. The team remains undefeated in its season so far.
STUNT is eager to prove itself as a vital part of the cheer program this season at CBU and demonstrate their ability to achieve that goal.