Cheering along

Cheerleaders place emphasis on recognition and mentorship

Maya Ewing, Staff Writer

The SPU cheer team preforms a stunt during the 2021-2022 basketball season. (Rio Giancarlo)

Observers of cheerleading cannot help but hold their breath as they watch incredible athletes seemingly defy physics. The tricky routines gracefully fall together with both skill and strength. Being a cheerleader requires physical strength and motivation to endure and achieve. Seattle Pacific’s cheer team shows support and school spirit at basketball, soccer and volleyball games on campus. Additionally, they attend school events such as Falcon Fest, orientation and visiting tours.

As a team, they fall under the branch of athletics because of the risks and injuries that come with the sport. Yet, unusually, the cheerleading squad does not currently have a coach and relies heavily on student leadership from within. The team lies in an awkward in-between space, neither promoted as a club nor as a sport that gets amenities and access. With the effort and time that the Seattle Pacific cheer team puts in, team members think they deserve more support in recognition and mentorship.

Lizzy Carlson, a senior nursing major, has stepped into a leadership role this year, which involves taking on management tasks involving scheduling practices and obtaining the cheer outfit.

“We would appreciate being more a part of athletics, just receiving more support from them because we are student-run and we don’t have a coach,” Carlson said. “It’s a lot of work for the captains because we are the ones ordering the gear or running practices and coming up with performances while also being students. Our teammates see us not only as teammates but also as coaches in a sense.”

Hiring a cheer coach is not an effortless task; it takes both time and finances to locate and fund a coach. While the administration has been looking for a coach, it has not been a top priority, especially since the team does not offer scholarships or bring money towards the school.

Fellow captain and nursing major Sydney Porter gave suggestions for tracking down a coach. Unlike other sports, cheer does not have lengthy practices that require coach attendance.

“We don’t practice every day for multiple hours like the other sports teams, so having a coach come in part-time to help run things, someone who is knowledgeable and has been doing it for many years, versus us who are knowledgeable but not in the sense of a coach,” Porter said.

Having a mentor with an understanding of the sport would be immensely helpful for the team, especially lightening the load of the student captains, Carlson agrees.

“Having a coach would help our team to be more in communication with athletics about that kind of stuff, bringing people in advertising, possibly offering scholarships, and it would make the team more recognized as an actual sport as a part of athletics,” Carlson said. “It would be nice to have a coach there for guidance and support, being able to do more of those behind-the-scenes things like communicating, ordering the uniforms and materials.”

Yet even without a coach, the cheer team has a positive outlook and expectations for the season. Their student-led team has not only worked but has thrived for the last five years.

“The community on our team this year is just really warm and welcoming. Everyone is friendly; it just seems like one full team, whereas in the past we have been split up into smaller sections, like our stunt groups,” Porter said. “But this year, our goal is to make it very warm, welcoming and do a lot of team bonding. Partially too, we have a smaller team this year, which makes it more close-knit.”