With the return of the Sam Houston State University all-girl cheerleading squad, Bearkat pride is running high.
The last time SHSU had an active all-girl cheerleading squad was in 1997. Yet during the nine years since then, the SHSU athletics program has grown too big for just one squad to handle. The all-girl cheerleading squad and the co-ed squad now work together to ensure all SHSU athletic teams are supported.
“With the split basketball schedule, I felt we needed the all-girl squad to improve the spirit program and do a better job supporting the basketball team,” Spirit Coordinator Jared King said. “I wanted a squad that would project a clean collegiate image. I expected them to have a strong work ethic and a positive attitude and the ability to effectively lead a crowd.”
Tryouts for the team were held in Dec. 2005 and the 13 women who made the team now perform at every women’s home basketball game and have made several appearances at men’s basketball games as well.
“I think they’ve performed very well,” King said. Their skills are progressing and every game we’ve been able to do something new. I think that’s a tell-tale sign that we’re doing good.”
Because the squad is considered a zero-budget program by the university, they receive no funding from SHSU. In order to raise money to support the new program, the members of the squad have participated in fundraisers in addition to paying a start-up fee.
In part because of their lack of funds, the all-girl cheerleading squad will not compete in any competitions this year. Yet starting up the new program has kept the girls and spirit coordinators busy enough.
“Competition costs are high and we just don’t have the funds for the all girl squad to compete this year,” King said. “We really need to focus on establishing the squad first. I want to build a strong foundation.”
Currently, there are plans to continue with the all-girl cheerleading squad next year. The squad found much success on the sidelines and generated a lot of positive feedback in their first year, which should hopefully carry into next semester as well. While it is not yet clear whether or not the all-girl squad will be compete in competitions, their new duties in the fall will include cheering at home football games as well as splitting the volleyball schedule with the co-ed squad.
“I am very excited about this program,” King said. “It gives these girls an opportunity to do something they love.”