Lots of sports teams go through rebuilding years in attempts to be the best team they can be, and it is no different for the Washburn Cheer Squad.
When a team gets a new coach, many everyday, routine things are changed. And many times this leads to the rebuilding. Carly DeDonder is in her second year of coaching the cheerleaders at Washburn, and believes the team is headed in the right direction, but she knows that to be at the top, they have to start at the bottom.
“We are in the rebuilding process right now,” said DeDonder. “When I came in a lot of things changed and we had to start with a whole new team, but we are definitely improving.”
The squad will hold tryouts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in Petro. DeDonder hopes for a big turnout so the team can continue building and be more selective in the squad’s selection. Everyone is encouraged to tryout for the squad, even those with little experience. There will be a clinic the day before the tryouts start to learn cheers, chants and the fight song.
“It’s a really good way to get involved,” said Lauren Eckert, a sophomore mass media major, who has been on the squad for two years. “It’s also great for networking, meeting new people and making a lot of great friends. I have learned so much and it has been a good experience.”
The Washburn cheer squad is improving both in skill and in numbers. The team has three returning members who have led a squad with only eight women. But with the three returning women, DeDonder hopes it will start the trend of more team members staying year after year.
One of the team’s ultimate goals is to recruit enough members that it will be able to compete in cheer competitions. A team that is in a competition has 20 members or more. Scholarships are available for cheerleaders who make the squad, and can go to both women and men. And although the Washburn squad doesn’t have any men on their team, DeDonder said men could contribute a lot.
“With guys on the team, there is the option for a lot more stunts and higher level stunts,” said DeDonder. “Their strength can be used in a lot of different ways. We have the uniforms and everything for guys.”
When and if the team gets good enough to compete in competitions, it will allow them to travel more. During the regular season, the cheerleaders aren’t allowed to travel, except for football season amd when the Ichabods and Lady Blues make the postseason. They cheer for football, men and women’s basketball and occasionally volleyball and soccer.
“My favorite part was always the traveling,” said Eckert. “You get really close to your team when everyone is in a small van for hours at a time. It’s really fun.”
Many Division I schools and some Division II schools have height and weight requirements for their cheerleaders, but that is not the case at Washburn. Anyone can tryout for the team at Washburn, and there is a tryout held each semester. Students should be able to perform stunts and they are tested on routines and chants.
DeDonder considers all of her women athletes and makes sure they know that.
“What they do is physically demanding and there has to be some athletic ability,” said DeDonder. “When we begin our season and have training, the girls are sore all week from working out.”
People who want to tryout should click on the Washburn Cheerleading link at wusports.com to get more information. They can also e-mail coach DeDonder at [email protected] to get a tryout packet with all of the paperwork and information to fill out before the tryouts.
“I encourage a lot of people to come to the tryouts,” said DeDonder. “It’s a fun experience and a challenging experience but well worth it. We always have fun.”