‘Cheering up’ the Whittier College campus

‘Cheering up’ the Whittier College campus

Alisa Buriel
FOR THE QC

Whittier College first-years Rebecca Ramos and Sarah Dorsey, have both cheered in high school and are creating a cheer team in college to continue their cheer legacy. Whittier College will have a new cheer team this fall semester of 2017.

“There wasn’t really a cheer team previously,” said Dorsey. “About five years ago, there was a spirit squad. I’m not sure if they were a club or were affiliated with the school, but this year there wasn’t one, so we decided to make one.” 

An alumnus had suggested that Ramos bring back the cheer team, so Ramos posted the idea of starting a new team on the Whittier Facebook page. That’s how she met Dorsey, who replied to Ramos’ post. The two then brought the cheer club up at the students’ activities fair and got over 55 people to sign up.

“I am super excited about the new cheer team,” said Dorsey. “I loved going to sporting events in high school and I also love dance, but due to [an] injury I wasn’t able to participate in dance or cheer. So, I am super excited to be able to have this sense of comraderie and friendship that I’ve been missing.”

Associate Dean of Students Josh Hartman is the official head cheer coach for the team, pending liability insurance. Hartman was first approached in a meeting about being the new coach by Ramos, Dorsey, and first-year Mackenzie Bryce. Hartman is more than qualified for the position. “I have been a collegiate cheer coach for about 10 years now,” said Hartman. “I have served as head coach at Dartmouth College and at New York University.”  

Coach Josh Hartman observing the cheer members’ attempt at a new lift. 

Coach Josh Hartman observing the cheer members’ attempt at a new lift. 

Even with an official coach and members, the cheer team is not considered a sport, but rather a club. Like the Rugby team at Whittier College, the cheer team is not National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) affiliated. However, not being an NCAA affiliated sports team isn’t as bad as it seems. The team believes it is better for to be considered a club due to the NCAA regulations that establish strict rules and guidelines for all sports. These guidelines focus on the amount of hours a team can practice and what stunts are allowed and not allowed for safety purposes. 

“Most collegiate cheer teams are either club sports or other affiliated athletic organizations, rather than formal NCAA-recognized teams,” said Hartman. “The primary purpose of collegiate cheerleading is to support the school’s athletic program and enhance school spirit. Competition is secondary to that main purpose. While the Whittier College Cheer Team will be a heavily athletic program focused on partner and group stunting, we also hope to work collaboratively with the Athletic Department to support home athletic events. I’m confident the team will be a positive representation of Whittier College.” 

Unfortunately, since the Whittier College Athletics Department cannot take on the cheer team directly, there will be little-to-no funding from the Athletics Department to the new cheer team. The money to fund the club will come from the ASWC Senate, as all clubs get one hundred and fifty dollars to start off. The rest of the money that they need will likely come from fundraising or sponsorships. Fortunately, the cheer team does not need to start from scratch, because Whittier College already has mats they can use. A majority of expenses will be used for the uniforms and pompoms. 

So far the team has had excellent stunt practices, and there is already hope for the future. “The new cheer team is full of fun people. We already get along so well, and it has only been two days,” said Ramos. “I would like to have everyone learn the fundamentals of cheer for the ones who haven’t done it before, have everyone progress as a team, [and] set a great example [so we are] able to recruit more first-years.” 

The team currently holds twenty team members and hopes to add more grow in members as the club continues to evolve. The new Whittier College cheer team is an advocate for gender equality. “As we choreographed, we kept in mind the comfort level of men and women and made changes if necessary,” said Dorsey. “Men would be a great addition to the team if they wanted to participate.” 

Ultimately, the cheer team hopes to surrounding the school and the community with nothing but Poet spirit. Whittier College should be expecting a great outcome for the new cheer team. “I think that this team is well deserved,” said Dorsey. “If we can create more spirit and promote more attendance for sports events... then we are doing something right.”

Practices are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 5:30 pm. to 7:00 pm.  The team meets at the north lawn, right next to the library.

The Whittier College cheer squad focused intently on Coach Josh Hartman’s demonstration. 

The Whittier College cheer squad focused intently on Coach Josh Hartman’s demonstration.