Tucker Hunter: An Athelete Shooting For The Stars

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by Tyler Francke, Active Media Contributing Writer

America's Got Talent

Canby High School alum Tucker Hunter has seen more than his share of success in the world of competitive cheer, including three ICU gold medals for Team USA, three NCAA national championships and several other world titles – and all before turning 30! But his career was raised to new heights this summer with a dazzling debut on America’s Got Talent that had celebrity judges Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Howie Mandel and even Simon Cowell, well, cheering.
Tucker is the son of former Canby Cougar baseball coach Marty Hunter and former Canby cheer coach Kim Hunter, who passed away in 2015 from ovarian cancer. Tucker graduated from CHS in 2010 and then studied at Oklahoma State University, graduating in 2014. The AGT segment featured Tucker and his All Star Cheer team, the CA Wildcats based out of the Cheer Athletics gym in his new hometown of Plano, Texas. Tucker has been part of several highly successful competitive cheer teams at the Cheer America gym since moving to Texas four or five years ago. The teams form in the fall and compete throughout the winter and spring, ultimately culminating with the national championships at Disney World in April, which was unfortunately canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Filmed in March, the America’s Got Talent audition was actually one of the last performances the Wildcats were able to put on, and (again because of Covid-19) it happened with no live audience besides host Terry Crews and the panel of celebrity judges. The Governor of California, where AGT is filmed, had just issued the order that week prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people.
“We didn’t know there wasn’t going to be an audience until we got there,” said Tucker. “It was not really what we were used to, because whenever you’re competing in a cheer competition, you’re used to there being a big crowd. And you can kind of rely on the crowd to let you know how your routine is going.”
The routine – which the Wildcats had been perfecting since November, but tweaked slightly for AGT because of the smaller stage space and different personnel – wowed the judges, all four of whom voted them on to the next round.
“It was very cool to hear all the positive comments they had,” the former Canby resident recalled. “Most people aren’t super familiar with All Star Cheerleading until you see it live, so I think they were kind of surprised. It was neat to get their feedback.”

Showing off the Superbowl bling

They even got kind words from the notoriously prickly Simon Cowell. “Yeah — he was nice to us,” Tucker said with a laugh. “We didn’t get to watch any of the other auditions, so I’m not sure if he was rude to them, like I guess he’s more known for, but with us, he was very positive.”
The Wildcats’ routine featured a dazzling array of acrobatics, flips, and cheerleaders being casually tossed to the height of the America’s Got Talent sign. It looks effortless, and it’s supposed to. “I think it’s pretty similar to gymnastics when you watch the Olympics,” Tucker said. “It looks so easy, but that’s because no one sees all the trial and error and the amount of repetition it takes to get it to that point.”

During the team’s interviews on the show, in which Tucker was among those prominently featured, the Wildcats drove home the message that cheerleading is a true sport on its own merits — not mere window dressing for more mainstream competitive sports like basketball or football. “There’s a lot more to cheerleading than most people assume,” he said. “When I say, ‘I do cheerleading,’ they assume I just stand on the sidelines and pump my arms. It was cool to show a different side of this thing that I’ve done for a large portion of my life.”
Tucker has heard from many of his former friends and neighbors in Canby since the AGT segment aired, and he said it has been cool to see how much excitement and interest it has generated. Though he could not disclose the happenings of future episodes, he did confirm that the Wildcats’ story is not done yet.
“I don’t know how much I’m allowed to share, but there are more rounds coming,” he said. “We have not gone back yet to film more, but hopefully we will soon. There’s been a bit of a delay because of everything that’s happening right now.” Whatever happens, though, it’s clear that Tucker and the Wildcats will certainly have all of Canby cheering them on to victory! ■

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