Twin UI sophomores double as YouTube celebrities

When their YouTube journey began in 2011, Megan and Ciera Stitz had no idea their videos would bloom into one of the most successful gymnastics/cheer channels. Now, the twins juggle being students at the UI while maintaining a channel about sports they no longer compete in.


Katina Zentz

From left: UI sophomores Megan and Ciera Stitz pose for a portrait in the Adler Journalism Building on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. The duo produces YouTube videos and have over 1 million subscribers.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

Walking around campus, Megan and Ciera Stitz may seem like normal college students. But the Stitz sisters are not simply normal sophomores at the UI, they have wound up in YouTube stardom.

One day in 2011, the Stitzes and cousin Maggie Atcheson were jumping around on a trampoline and decided to experiment with a video camera, they said. That inspired what is now “TheCheernastics2,” a gymnastics and cheer-based YouTube channel with close to 1.8 million subscribers.

“We are just lucky to have started when we did and doing it for all the right reasons, because I think that’s what led us to be so successful in the first place,” Megan said.

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For most of the channel’s life, the videos followed Megan and Ciera to gymnastics meets, doing tutorials on various skills, competitions between the twins, and collaborations with cheerleader Atcheson. Her videos featured similar content with cheerleading as the focus, they said.

Being one of the first gymnastics/cheerleading channels on YouTube at the time, “TheCheernastics2” grew fans quickly. In 2014, the channel began to take off, Megan said.

The girls were invited to join various collaboration channels, such as a gymnastics channel called “Flippin’ Out,” and “AwesomnessTV,” which features various top YouTube stars doing videos together on random topics. They attended VidCon in 2015 and 2016 and did a performance on AwesomenessTV’s stage.

Their favorite experience, they said, was going to the Olympic Media Summit in Los Angeles in March 2016, where social-media influencers were invited to interview Olympic hopefuls. Megan, Ciera, and Atcheson interviewed such gymnastics competitors as Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, and Aly Raisman.

In the fall of 2017, Megan and Ciera started at the UI. Atcheson was in Des Moines finishing her senior year of high school, so finding time to film videos proved to be difficult. The girls got together when they could and filmed in bulk. Then, Megan and Ciera worked around their class schedules to edit and upload to their channels once a week.

Now, Atcheson is at Iowa State University. With all three women in college, gymnastics meets and cheer competitions are a thing of the past.

“We have lost a couple of our skills, so we can’t do nearly as much,” Ciera said. “Also, there are a lot of skills we don’t want to try anymore because we don’t want to hurt ourselves.”

Now, the women are focused on the content they can create while keeping their subscribers engaged with videos catered to the channel’s demographic.

The twins also have a second, lifestyle-based channel with close to 400,000 subscribers called “Megan and Ciera.” The content includes daily vlogs about college life at the UI, travel vlogs, and health videos. 

In addition, Atcheson has her own channel with similar content and approximately 75,000 subscribers.

With such a large following, the women are often recognized around campus.

“It’s a weird experience, because I feel like a normal teenager,” Atcheson said. “I go to college; I do normal things. I don’t really feel like I have fans or that I’m any different.”

While YouTube is a large part of their lives, Megan and Ciera still look toward their future at the UI and what it may bring, they said.

“We are both pre-physical therapy; that’s our end goal,” Megan said. “With YouTube, we are seeing where it goes. That doesn’t mean it will ever stop necessarily, because I do think it is a hobby that I like enough to keep doing even if the audience isn’t there. We don’t know where it is going to take us, but we are open to anything.”