Stella Merriman

Stella Merriman is a 9-year old cheerleader competing almost beyond her years. She’s a “flyer” and puts herself at risk at every practice and competition, as do her fellow team members and competitors. Stella has been competing for 4 years and has enjoyed it from the first day out. Since discovering the Unequal Halo, she won’t practice (or sometimes eat dinner…) without it. In this Spotlight, Stella and her mom reflect on the sport and the need for head protection.


About Stella

3rd grade
Carolina Park Elementary
Mount Pleasant, SC
Rockstar Cheer, Charleston
Cheersport Nationals, Winner, Junior 2 International division
Five 1st Places, One 2nd Place; Invited, Summit National Competition, ESPN Sports Complex, Orlando, FL, Placed 6th; Southeastern Conference Cup Winner, Most Conference Wins

Before you read here are a few things to know:  In competitive cheerleading there is a flyer, 2 bases (usually, side and main base), and a backspot. Sometimes there may be a frontspot as well. Another spotter, might be involved depending upon the skill level of the stunt and the rules and regulations for that skill. As to concussions and their frequency, statistically, bases suffer more concussions than flyers. Concussions are the #1 injury in cheer.


“…it can be scary learning that new skill.

“I love cheerleading. But learning a 2 and ½ minute routine is hard. It’s fun… but hard. You have to try things you’ve never done before and sometimes you move up a level of difficulty and it can be scary learning that new skill. The bases and everyone else in a support position are all learning at the same time. And there are accidents.”


JEN (Stella’s Mom) SAYS…

“It can be dangerous.

“Sometimes they are doing their routine on hard floors, with no soft mats. It can be dangerous. We have witnessed first-hand how concussions are the #1 injury in cheer. We had one bad concussion last year and then another (both on our team) and Stella watched what her friends went through afterwards. She got nervous about getting one.”



“My mom talked with me about finding head protection and I was OK with it.

“It scared me to see what can happen. They couldn’t do anything, they had headaches, lights bothered them, noises bothered them, they couldn’t come to school… and when they came back they had lost something and had to get it back… like starting over with a cheer routine. I was worried that it would happen to me. My mom talked with me about finding head protection and I was OK with it.”


“I looked around and found Unequal online and their Halos.

“I thought if there is something out there that Stella could wear that would reduce the risk of her getting hurt, we had to find it. She’s hadn’t had a concussion, but I wanted to keep it that way. Just relying on the bases to guide and catch her correctly was not enough to give me any peace of mind. Another cheer mom was thinking the same thing and she and I looked around and found Unequal online and their Halos. There was information there that made sense to me… the whole military thing and the lab findings. Halos looked the best of anything we saw, they weren’t expensive and Stella said “OK let’s try it.”



“It is just like a headband but it is not an ordinary headband.

“I liked how it looks. It is just like a headband but it is not an ordinary headband. There’s more to it. And it’s comfortable. I don’t feel it on but knowing it’s there makes me feel much more secure in the air. I just feel more protected and so I can focus on what I am doing not on being scared of hitting my head.”


“And the Halo has already been put to the test…

“Stella was the first in our gym to wear Unequal. Once other girls saw it and noticed how relaxed Stella was about wearing it, they bought it too. More and more girls are wearing the Halo now. Stella finds it so comfortable she often doesn’t take it off at dinner. It has become a part of her in some ways and she likes how she looks in it. Makes my job easier not having to push her to wear it. She wants to wear it! If it was ugly no one would wear it. There is another piece of headgear that is like a full foam helmet, but it doesn’t look good. Kids have to feel good in something. If it is also serious protection, that is a win-win.

And the Halo has already been put to the test… a couple weeks ago Stella fell doing a stunt and hit the side of her head hard on the mat but was OK and got right back up and kept going. Not sure it would have been like that without Unequal as a safety buffer.”



“I am really glad my mom found this.

“It really helps me and I think with more confidence I perform better. And now, seeing my friends also get protected because of what I started makes me feel good.”


Get Informed. Be Protected. Play Stronger.


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