Learning, getting competitive in cheer club

Photo provided to the Daily Mining Gazette Top row (left to right): Mary Galbraith, Darius Schultz, Trevor Smith, Brett Hamilton, Joey Anderson, Lauryn Richter. Second row: Marina Visser, TaMara Robertson, Andrew Miscimarra, Lexi Dukette, Emma Oshnock. Third row: Mallory Bunker, Katie Willers, Kayla Wojcik, Emma Kehus. Bottom row: Al Ray, Heather Woodrum (student coach), Sarah Shilts.

HOUGHTON — Emma Kehus, a junior mechanical engineering major at Michigan Tech, has been affiliated with the co-ed club cheer team for three years. The team is split into two sections, a sidelines team seen at many Michigan Tech sporting events, and a competitive team.

“We’re split into a sideline and a competitive team for cheerleading,” she said. “For sideline, our main objective would be fostering team spirit for the student body at home football, basketball and, sometimes, hockey games.

“For our competitive team, we don’t have a lot of experienced cheerleaders that joined the team, so our main (goal ) is teaching newbies how to competitive cheer in National Cheerleading Association (NCA)-style competitions that we go to in the spring.”

In any sport, it takes a full team effort for plays to run smoothly. Cheerleading is much of the same when it comes to the synchronization of group routines.

“(We) perform routines and synchronizations, working together to make stunts hit,” Kehus said. “It really takes a lot of teamwork to make routines hit. The competitiveness comes out when you want to make stunts hit cleaner without wobbles and other things. The team really has to come together against other teams.”

Kehus has seen the cheer club grow together over the course of her tenure and she is proud of it.

“I’ve seen the comradery grow a lot between teammates (in) the three years that I’ve been here,” she said. “The way that our teammates interact and help teach each other when things are going wrong, helping improving our stunting and tumbling, there’s just been a better attitude in helping each other on the team.”

A big goal for the competitive cheer club was to rank close to Grand Valley State University in the large co-ed advanced division of the NCA.

“The team is smaller than we’re used to right now, so a big goal for (next year) is to try to recruit new people,” Kehus said. “II know a lot of guys come into college without any cheer experience, (but) it can be a really great experience and they can really learn to love it.

“Every year we compete in NCA competitions and one of our main competitors is GVSU, so (it’s) always a big goal for us to try to beat their scores. At least getting close to them would mean a lot to us, because they’re usually a nationally-ranked team.”

The competitive season concluded at the end of March. Kehus was happy with how the season went overall, given that most members were new to the competitive side of cheer.

“I think we did really well for ourselves (given) that more than half of the team was brand new to college cheerleading,” she said. “We performed really well for where our experience was. We only competed against GVSU, and came in second place to them, but I think from the team’s perspective, we did an amazing job.”

To conclude the competitive season the Cheer club hosts a dance showcase at the SDC as a social celebration to wrap up the cheer season and socialize with others with the same interests.

“They hold it every year and they invite local dance studios, (our) cheer club, and then they invited the Northern (Michigan) cheerleading team, so we got to meet them, which was really cool,” said Kehus. “After we performed at that, we’ve been going through the election process for next year and then we’re preparing for Spring Fling.

“It (the showcase) was really fun for us. We spend months and months doing this routine and trying to make it as clean as as possible. Sometimes it can be stressful (when we’re) trying to do it for the competition, so this time when we performed it was like our last hurrah. There wasn’t any pressure and we just really enjoyed doing the routine one last time.”

Determination is a major element to finding success in cheerleading. Kehus is proud of her team’s ability to adapt and grow as the season progressed.

“Dedication is one of the most important things in regards to stunting because that’s one of the main things that the cheer team does is working in stunt groups of about four people usually,” she said. “You have to be extremely dedicated because your team is relying on you. If we’re missing one person from a stunt group, that entire stunt group can’t practice that day. It takes a lot of commitment from every person on the team.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is the dedication that the current members of the club have to Michigan Tech cheerleading doing well because a lot of them are first year (students) and have never done cheerleading.”

“Throughout the season, we had injuries and we needed people to replace (those who were injured) for the competition team,” Kehus said. “They came in and worked really hard and give it their all. I’m really proud of the dedication and promise that they see for this team in the future.”

The Michigan Tech cheer team will host an open practice at the SDC multipurpose room from 6-8 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, for those interested in seeing and/or joining the club in person.