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Costa Mesa’s Kamea Binnquist receives college scholarship for ‘STUNT the Sport’

Kamea Binnquist, who graduated from Costa Mesa High in 2021.
Kamea Binnquist, who graduated from Costa Mesa High in 2021, recently accepted a scholarship to compete on the STUNT team at Hope International University. She is a two-time CIF champion and three-time NHSCC national champion.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Kamea Binnquist needed a break.

After she graduated from Costa Mesa High School last spring, Binnquist took the fall semester off. She kept busy, working as a nanny four days a week and at a local café the other three days.

“I’m honestly so happy that I did take a gap semester,” said Binnquist, 18. “If I was in school, I wouldn’t be able to work and have those experiences.”

Soon, however, her former high school cheerleading and STUNT the Sport coach Kori Johnson came knocking.

Johnson wanted Binnquist to continue to be her student-athlete at Hope International University in Fullerton, where Johnson has started a new STUNT program.

“I’ve known Kamea since she was 5 years old,” Johnson said. “It kind of broke my heart that she wasn’t going to school. I was like, ‘You know what, you need to go back to school, and you need to be doing the sport that you love.’ One of my major philosophies in coaching is looking at the whole person, not just the athlete. I care about them and their success in life.”

Johnson talked to Binnquist’s mother, Becci, who relayed the idea to Kamea. She was on board.

Binnquist has enrolled at Hope International for the spring semester and will compete on the school’s inaugural STUNT team, on scholarship.

Kamea Binnquist performs a jump split.
Kamea Binnquist performs a jump split. Binnquist, who graduated from Costa Mesa High in 2021, has recently accepted a scholarship to compete on the STUNT team at Hope International University. She is a two-time CIF champion and three-time NHSCC national champion.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

She is a winner who Johnson is happy to have back. During her time at Costa Mesa High, Binnquist won three Universal Cheerleaders Assn. High School Nationals titles, and two CIF Southern Section championships.

STUNT is an emerging sport at the collegiate level, with no pom-poms or bows involved, unlike cheerleading. Like many sports, there are four quarters, involving head-to-head partner stunts, pyramids and jumps and tumbling competitions.

Johnson, who still coaches at Costa Mesa High, was hired as Hope International’s STUNT coach in 2020 and began assembling a program during the coronavirus pandemic.

“STUNT the Sport opens up so many opportunities for female athletes at the collegiate level, which is amazing,” Johnson said. “For me to be able to move on to the next level coaching and continuing to coach my athletes that I’ve nurtured for so long, that’s amazing as well.”

Binnquist said she was already planning to go to college after her break, but she wasn’t sure if her competitive career was over.

“I was going to go back to school, but I was going to go back to OCC,” she said. “But then I was like, ‘If someone’s going to pay me to do something that I love, why wouldn’t I want to do that?’”

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