Getting a team that sticks together and shows dedication is the most challenging part of the job for UAA’s cheerleading squad. Then there is the man factor.
In order for the squad to compete they need more male cheerleaders, which would help them achieve their current goal: to receive academic scholarships for their work on the team.
“We can compete if we send in tapes, but we’re not this year,” Simone Robb, a freshman on the squad, said. “There aren’t enough men.”
Michelle Macasaet has been cheering for years, and said last year’s teamwork and skill building has helped the newer UAA squad members this year.
“We got, like, four new girls this semester and one new guy,” Macasaet said.
The squad, which was begun approximately 30 years ago, has 10 women and five men this semester. Because of the increasing number of alumni who participated in UAA cheer leading, the team found the potential for building an alumni association to award scholarships.
“I was trying to help build that also,” Macasaet said. “I have been approached by other older cheerleaders who used to cheer here, and I’ve been trying to build something from that. I told the coach and he was really excited about it.”
Coach Jason Vallieres has guided the team over the last four years. He said the coaching job is a one-man show, and the team meets up to their huge time commitment with little recognition.
Last fall he began to collect names and organize a scholarship association for the lacking amount of compensation for his team’s work.
“But that’s the cool part. They want to be supporting the teams and athletic department,” Vallieres said. “It shows character.”
Macasaet said current circumstance make it difficult for squad members to meet up to the commitment it requires to be on the team, and this has been the most detrimental part for building future scholarships.
“It’s hard to keep a team together just because we’re trying to pay for school. We have people that choose jobs and classes over the team,” Macasaet said. “So cheerleading is the last of all.”
Jonathan Lettow, who can be seen riding a megaphone at basketball games in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, said the squad is a family, and that _” not recognition _” is what keeps them together.
“It takes a lot of practice, a lot of hard work, teamwork, patience and dedication,” Lettow said.
The squad practices three times a week and through out the summer with tryouts held in April and September.
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