Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Latrobe’s Mikayla McClain

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Monday, March 13, 2023 | 12:22 PM


It’s not every day new sports are being added to the NCAA varsity list.

Starting in 2023, there will be a new one on display for collegiate cheerleaders.

STUNT, described as “an exciting head-to-head game between two teams who execute skills-based routines in various categories — partner stunts, jumps/tumbling, pyramids/tosses and team routines,” according to its website.

Mercyhurst, is the first Pennsylvania university to offer STUNT.

Latrobe senior Mikayla McClain is among the first to be not only on the STUNT team but receive a scholarship for the sport.

“It’s extremely honorable,” McClain said of the scholarship. “Hopefully it will inspire other girls from Greater Latrobe to follow their dreams.”

She’s also the first to receive a cheerleading scholarship in the school’s history.

McClain expressed her excitement of being able to partake in the state’s first STUNT program.

“To know that (Mercyhurst) is the first to start this, and to hopefully inspire other colleges to follow down that path and for women in cheer, is really exciting,” McClain said.

McClain has been cheering since first grade and is an all-star cheerleader with Cheer Trixx Athletics in Indiana.

Four or so years from now, when she is graduating from college, STUNT still will be a relatively new sport.

So what does she envision the future of the sport looking like even after she’s done?

“With (cheer) progressing so rapidly, I know so many people who have told me personally that they want to try it,” McClain said. “I do feel (STUNT) will succeed.”

McClain is planning to study nursing and wants to explore different options in the field while at Mercyhurst.

McClain took some time for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:

How did you get interested in STUNT?

I was contacted by Mercyhurst. They had emailed me, saying that they had been offered by the NCAA to offer STUNT at the university, and that they were the first college in Pennsylvania to be offered the new eligibility with STUNT. They had also seen videos of my previous years of doing cheer, and they said that they felt I would be a good fit for their team. I obviously replied back to them and I said that I was interested.

I then had a zoom call with the coach, Ruthanne Mineo. She explained to me everything about what STUNT is, what they’re offering, how it works, and it was honestly intriguing. I didn’t even know this kind of cheerleading even existed. I was used to competitive and regular high school/school cheer. She invited me up to the college, and she had a couple of the girls from the previous year’s cheer team come down to show me around. They also had helped explain that they’re also going to be on the team, and that they’re super excited. They showed me around the college, they showed me around where they’re going to be practicing. The college itself was just beautiful. After talking even more with Ruthanne, she handed me a letter of intent for the STUNT team, and obviously I accepted, which was really exciting.

How much work had to be put into where you are now?

Five to six days in the gym is honestly all it is. That and constant support from people. Just five to six days of extremely hard work, sweat, blood and tears. It all helps build that. There are hard days, absolutely. But there are the rewarding days, where you get to experience the victories, and the memories you make with your friends. For me, that’s what makes it so enjoyable, and it makes me just broaden that love for cheer.

How exciting is it to be part of one of the fastest growing and newest sports in the nation?

It’s really exciting because I get to help lead the way for STUNT for future athletes who want to explore that. Those people who want to get interested in it, and hopefully fall in love with cheer more as they get to experience STUNT, and to compete for those national titles.

What’s one thing people don’t know about you?

One trait that a person might not know about me is that I’m extremely hard-working. I really just give it my all in everything that I do and that I put my mind to.

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