Rieder turns down Jazz

The Times-Tribune - - TOP OF THE SECOND - MARTY MY­ERS Con­tact the writer: mmy­ers@timessham­rock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 5437; @mmy­er­stt on twit­ter

It wasn’t re­ally some­thing that Lake­land High School grad Abby Rieder wanted to do. She was sim­ply help­ing out some friends who needed a work­out part­ner as they tried out for the Utah Jazz stunt cheer team.

Next thing she knew, Rieder’s friends had talked her into try­ing out. And just a few days later, she was se­lected to be a mem­ber of the NBA team’s stunt squad. Pretty heady stuff.

By the mid­dle of July, Rieder was prep­ping to be part of the en­ter­tain­ment at about one-third of Utah’s home games.

And then she wasn’t, de­cid­ing in­stead to come home and con­tinue her mas­ter’s de­gree stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Scran­ton.

How does that hap­pen? It’s a long story, one that re­ally started in 2013 when Rieder, an alumna of the United Sports Academy in Dun­more, earned a gym­nas­tics schol­ar­ship at Brigham Young Univer­sity.

“It’s kind of crazy,” said Rieder, 24, who lives in Mont­dale. “I was on the BYU gym­nas­tics team for two years and I had two surg­eries. I thought, maybe I’ll try out for the cheer­lead­ing team. It might be more fun.”

Rieder had been a cheer­leader at Lake­land, and af­ter gym­nas­tics in­juries led to one surgery on a torn ro­ta­tor cuff in her shoul­der, and an­other on her an­kle, she made the switch.

For two years, she was part of the foot­ball cheer squad at BYU, and re­mained in Utah af­ter she grad­u­ated and while she searched for some­where to pur­sue her mas­ter’s.

Mean­while, she kept stunt­ing with her cheer friends who planned to work out for the co-ed Jazz squad.

“All of a sud­den they’re say­ing to me, ‘We’re try­ing out for Utah Jazz stunt team and you should to­tally try out.’ I was think­ing I don’t want to try out if I’m not go­ing to make it.

“They fi­nally con­vinced me to try out. I fig­ured I had noth­ing to lose.”

The field was whit­tled un­til Jazz squad coach Summer Willis in­formed Rieder she was one of about 25 men and women who would com­prise the team.

“I was re­ally ex­cited to make the team,” Rieder said.

At the same time, most of the women on the squad were prod­ucts of nearby We­ber State, where Willis coached.

“Also, I didn’t know any­body,” Rieder said. “All of the girls on the Jazz squad cheered for We­ber State. I was just a lit­tle ner­vous be­cause I was the only girl that didn’t have con­nec­tions to We­ber State, so I didn’t know any of the girls.”

So, she weighed the pros and cons of stay­ing with the squad while she ap­plied at the U of S.

“I started to ques­tion whether I want to come back. And I might never, ever have an op­por­tu­nity to do that again. I thought, maybe it’s okay to take a year off from school and do this as a side job.

“I was ner­vous I would have so much fun I wouldn’t want to go back to school. I was re­ally, re­ally torn. It was a hard de­ci­sion.”

Fi­nally, just days be­fore the se­mes­ter started at Scran­ton, Rieder de­cided to turn down the Jazz.

“I al­ways wanted to get my mas­ter’s in clin­i­cal men­tal health coun­sel­ing, and I al­ways kind of wanted to come back to Penn­syl­va­nia and get my li­cense here, and give back to my com­mu­nity,” Rieder said.

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