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Costa Mesa’s Kamea Binnquist Receives College Scholarship for “STUNT the Sport”

Kamea Binnquist needed a break.

After graduating from Costa Mesa High School last spring, Binnquist took the fall semester off. She stayed employed, working four days a week as a nanny and the other three days at a local coffee shop.

“I’m honestly so glad I did a midterm,” said Binnquist, 18. “If I were in school, I wouldn’t be able to work and have these experiences.”

Soon, however, Kori Johnson, her former high school cheerleading and STUNT the Sport coach, knocked on the door.

Johnson wanted Binnquist to remain her student-athlete at Hope International University in Fullerton, where Johnson 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 didn’t go to school. I said, ‘You know what, you need to go back to school and do the sport you love.’ One of my core coaching philosophies is to look at the whole person, not just the athlete. I care about them and their success in life.”

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

Binnquist has enrolled at Hope International for the spring semester and will be competing on the school’s first STUNT team on a scholarship.

Kamea Binnquist performs a jump split. Binnquist, who graduated from Costa Mesa High in 2021, recently accepted a scholarship to compete on Hope International University’s STUNT team. She is a two-time CIF champion and three-time NHSCC national champion.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

She’s a winner that Johnson would love 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 collegiate-level sport that, unlike cheerleading, does not involve pom poms or bows. As with many sports, there are four quarters where head-to-head partner stunts, pyramids and jumps and falls competitions take place.

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

“STUNT the Sport opens up so many opportunities for female athletes at the collegiate level, which is amazing,” said Johnson. “It’s also amazing to me that I’m able to move up to the next level of coaching and continue to coach my athletes that I’ve nurtured for so long.”

Binnquist said she already plans to go to college after her break but isn’t sure if her competitive career is over.

“I wanted to go back to school, but I wanted to go back to the OCC,” she said. “But then I thought, ‘If someone is paying me to do something I love, why wouldn’t I want to do that?'”

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