More to USD cheer team than meets the eye

By Khea Pollard

Our cheer team is back with a new roster of talent this year. Not the spirit squad, but the cheerleading team. New members include: senior Nadeaja Shaheed, junior Sandra Gadow, sophomore Amanda Pennell, and freshmen Jasmine Tauer, Paige Needles, Madeline Platt, Sydney Shields and Abby Shields.

The distinction between USD Cheerleading and USD Dance is worth noting.The cheerleading team focuses more on classic cheer movements such as jumping, stunting, tumbling and crowd leading.
The dance team focuses more on technical aspects of dance. Sophomore and captain of the USD cheer squad Adriianna Lagorio makes this difference clear, “If you want jumping, stunting, tumbling and crowd leading that does not involve technical dance skills, then cheer team is for you.”

Many students on campus confuse the spirit squad for the cheerleading team and vice versa. Each team is a distinct entity in its own right but both teams work together for the common goal of improving the school spirit across campus.

The team dancing at many of our athletic events is the USD spirit squad backed by Torero Athletics. USD is the only institution in the Pioneer Football League that does not have a traditional cheerleading team with stunts on the sideline of games.

In 2005 a cheerleader named Kristi Yamaoka from Southern Illinois University fell from the top of a pyramid during a performance. She suffered a fractured vertebra when she hit her head along with a concussion and bruised lung. Following this incident NCAA prohibited stunting without proper precautions as outlined by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. USD has since supported an NBA-style dance team known as the Spirit Team.

Many students are ignorant to the existence of both the cheer team and the spirit squad. This makes the cheer team’s role as a changemaking force unique to say the least. They seek change through the energy they bring to the campus environment. It is their hope that their high-spirited energy inspires other students on campus to embrace school spirit.
Additionally, these women function as a family unit and take their craft very seriously. Any negative energy directed towards them only brings them closer together.
“We are a big family and when people tear us down we only grow stronger,” Lagorio said.

Misconceptions aside, our cheerleaders know their role in amplifying school spirit and their passion is easy to see.

Sophomore and former member of the cheerleading team Brooke Belanger explains the magnetism of the team, “ I may just be an optimist, but walking into a practice of either organization you will find the greatest energy and highest morale in all of San Diego.” She believes this to be true even though she decided not to rejoin the team this year.
Student participation in support of our athletic teams has been a hot topic across the campus. The low turnout at our sporting events is a concern for many students and faculty alike. Perhaps the energy of the cheerleading team is what is needed to improve and promote better school spirit.

Head captain of the cheer team, Michelle McKey, stresses the importance of USD cheerleading to increasing school spirit.
“We are all changemakers and the cheer team is here to remind everyone that change doesn’t just happen in a chemistry lab. We’re tired of hearing everyone complain about the lack of school spirit and unification on our campus. It’s time we come together and do something about it.”

Our cheerleading team is recognized as an official team under the Universal Cheerleaders Association and the National Cheerleaders Association. With that sort of backing it is a wonder they are not seen stunting on the sidelines of USD athletic events.

Our cheerleaders live by the motto “high jumps, high stunts and high standards” and it’s apparent their skills and determination are nothing to sneeze at.