By Samantha Gillis
When Alissa Sheppard, communications senior, played soccer she found her drive from the crowd. “It gives you motivation to push yourself when you hear people yelling your name versus silence or just a few people shouting about the team,” she said. Sheppard said this is why cheerleaders are necessary to teams.
This year the squad boasts 22 people, which means the squad is an official team. Currently the NAIA is working on making cheerleading a competitive sport. It would be called stunts.
Barbara White, head cheerleading coach, said the sport would be teams competing against each other over four quarters. Stunts, cheer routine and tumbling are what would make up the four quarters and the teams would be judged on each category.
“Our old coach didn’t do much for recruiting, but Barbara (White) has worked really hard to get a lot of new girls,” said Sheppard. This is White’s second year of being a head coach and since she started the team has gotten more recognition.
White’s recruiting included contacting prospective students who showed interest in cheerleading, promoting the squad on a website, going to cheer festivals, keeping in touch with area coaches and counting on her current members to talk to their friends. That is what Ashlie Edwards, early education senior, did to recruit Elizabeth Hill, elementary education senior.
“I joined because it was on my bucket list,” said Hill. Hill has danced her entire life, but never cheered.
“It’s been a challenge,” she said, “From the stands it may look easy.” Hill said it requires physical strength, practice and trust in both yourself and your teammates.
With the new additions, the team also received more funding.
This means they will be able travel with the entire team. White said, “We are going to be traveling to two away football games, probably Bethany and Bethel.” For basketball they will be at the Friends University, McPherson College and other nearby away games. “We will also go to any play-off games the basketball teams will be in,” said White.
With the new additions and changes, Sheppard also wants to break the mold. “People think cheerleaders are stuck-up and stupid or ‘clicquey’ but we are trying to break that,” Sheppard said. “We want to encourage the teams and we want people to cheer with us,” she said.
White has a vision for her squad this year. “I would like to be a stronger squad to be able to do advance movement, a squad of excellence, one that supports the student body, has great presence, supports the team and supports the school,” she said.
Samantha Gillis is a senior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.