Cheerleading Team Finds Creative Ways of Bonding

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Zachary Pippen, Sports Reporter

The cheerleading team missed its two-week camp last summer, and cheerleaders needed find creative ways to connect without the two-week event.

“Instead, we established a ‘Big Sister, Little Sister’ program, where each first year is paired with an upperclassmen as someone they can be comfortable going to with any questions, to ask for advice, or even someone to just hang out with and get accustomed to campus,”  sophomore nursing major and cheerleader Lindsey Warden said.

Kendra Mattice, another cheerleader on the team, said the coach sparked the creative problem-solving.

“Our coach, Tara Sinclair, is awesome at being innovative and thinking outside the box in getting us to bond,” said the senior social work major. “We’ve done a few team dinners and a scavenger hunt. More recently we’ve been having a team competition and we are divided into two teams.”

The competition divides the team in half and requires each group to perform in categories such as cheers, jumps and tumbles. A certain number of team members must perform a chosen task and the team does it the best gets one point.

“It’s a fun way to break up practices and to make sure everyone knows the material,” said Mattice.

Despite their success in team building, the cheerleaders said they have  faced challenges, the biggest of which has been not being able to do major stunts and pyramids. But that hasn’t kept the girls down.

Instead they diverted to teaching the first years all of the dances and cheers, as well as working on tumbling skills and conditioning.

Warden said she is thankful for the opportunity to continue practicing.

“It’s been such a privilege being able to come back and practice with the team, as many other schools don’t have that opportunity,” said Warden. “Being able to come back to school and do the thing we love together when we thought we weren’t going to have the chance has made this season even more special to us. We’re all really appreciative that we are able to practice and be together as a team.”

She said her favorite memory is when the team placed fourth at nationals.

“We worked so hard all season and had a lot of grueling practices, so it was really rewarding to have all of our effort and persistence pay off,” she said. “In cheerleading nationals, we compete against D1 teams in addition to D2 and D3, so getting fourth was a huge accomplishment for us.”

Mattice said one of her favorite moments is when the team earned second place at nationals during her freshman year.

“There is nothing more exciting than standing in the circle when trophies are being handed out and winners are being announced and they announce everyone but top three and you haven’t been called. And when they announced us for second we kind of just all began crying tears of joy and excitement. That is a moment I will never forget because were a no name school from the middle of PA and we worked so hard that season. The energy in the moment we were announced and the next few days was simply incredible,” Mattice said.