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Buttery Commits to All-New Mercyhurst STUNT Team 

On Monday, Newfane senior Taylor Buttery signed a national letter of intent to join the brand-new women’s STUNT team at Mercyhurst University in Erie where she will study exercise science starting in the fall 2023 semester.

Mercyhurst announced it was adding STUNT as the Lakers’ 26th varsity-level sport offering in September 2022 with competition beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year. Current Mercyhurst cheerleading head coach Ruthanne Mineo was hired to lead the program as its first ever head STUNT coach.

“I’m excited to be a part of the beginning of the program and see where it goes over the next four years,” said Buttery. “I think it will be cool to watch.”

According to the Mercyhurst athletic department, STUNT is one of the fastest-growing girls’ & women’s sports in the country that “removes the crowd-leading element and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer. STUNT is an exciting head-to-head game between two teams who execute skill-based routines in various categories, such as partner stunts, jumps & tumbling, pyramids & tosses, and team routines.”

In the school’s official announcement of the new program last fall, Mercyhurst Assistant Vice President for Athletics Brad Davis said “STUNT is growing rapidly across the country, and we’re thrilled to be the first institution in Pennsylvania to offer it. We are proud to provide additional opportunities at the collegiate level for female athletes.”

Buttery said that cheering wasn’t originally part of her college planning process over the last few months and that it wasn’t until recently that she decided she wanted to continue to pursue her athletic passion at the next level.

“I had no intention of cheering in college. In the middle of my college search I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to go to any of these schools, I want to cheer,’” said Buttery after thinking it over in class. “I started applying to new places, I did a lot of research, I asked a lot of friends about where they heard the best teams are.”

After applying to at least ten colleges, Buttery said she then applied to about ten more schools, balancing her desired field of study with institutions that also had cheerleading or related options.

Taylor said that Mercyhurst’s cheer coach, Ruthanne Mineo, reached out directly to her regarding the cheerleading and STUNT opportunities offered in the Lakers’ athletic program.

“After talking to Coach Mineo, I learned a little more about the program and I could definitely see myself doing something like that,” said Buttery. “I met with coach, and I loved her, the team, and the campus is beautiful.”

Starting at four years old, Taylor first got involved with gymnastics before youth cheerleading. Eventually, she participated in All-Star cheerleading before trying out for varsity cheer at Newfane High School.

Taylor has cheered through both the fall and winter seasons at Newfane and was a team captain this year under Panthers head cheerleading coach Kennedy Sears.

Even for an experienced cheerleader like Buttery, STUNT cheerleading at Mercyhurst will be a new experience.

“I’ve never done it before…it’ll be brand new to me,” said Taylor. “It’s the same skill-ability as cheerleading…you’ve still got tumbling, stunts, and jumps, but it’s just a different way of combining them and making STUNT cheer more competitive.”

The new Mercyhurst women’s STUNT team will be made up of about thirty student-athletes with sixteen members on the traveling competition squad. Buttery is expecting to try out as a ‘tumbler,’ of which there are eight of on the roster.

“It’ll be more advanced than cheerleading,” said Taylor. “I’ll take tumbling classes weekly starting in August…it’ll be a lot more hands on.”

Mercyhurst STUNT will participate in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference beginning with the new academic year in fall 2023 as one of the newest of the 60 collegiate STUNT teams across the country. The NCAA granted emerging sport status to women’s STUNT for Division II member institutions as recently as January 14th.

Taylor is the daughter of Jimmy and Amber Buttery of Newfane.

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