Two teams, one spirit
After a two year absence, Biola’s cheer team is back with a hope to get students more involved in school spirit. Before this year, the Biola Dance Crew cheered on the men’s basketball team from the sidelines. But this year, the dance team will have some company.
A Cheer Element
“The cheer team was existent and thriving before it took a small break and is now back on campus under the direction of Biola Dance Crew,” said Candace Washington, who is the coach of both the Biola Cheer and Dance Teams.
At the end of last year, there was interest in bringing back a cheer element to the dance team, said Hilary Dempster, manager of University Events, who oversees the administration side of the cheer team as well as the Biola Dance Crew. When Washington was hired to coach the Biola Dance Crew three years ago, she wanted a cheer team, but there did not seem to be enough people interested in joining. Knowing that some of the students on the Biola Dance Crew came from cheer backgrounds, she tried to integrate the cheer aspect in routines.
“When we were on the team, Candace really had a vision for creating a cheer team, because she liked how we could do stunts and how we could tumble,” said Nadia Cookman, a sophomore Biola Cheer Team co-captain.
A Marketing Tool
Cookman did cheer all through high school, and the other Biola Cheer Team captain, junior Melissa Leon, started cheering competitively when she was 10 years old. Cookman and Leon, along with four other girls, formed the team after a round of tryouts during spring semester last year. The original six performed during S.O.S. week to gain interest for a second round of tryouts this fall, which produced eight more girls to round out the team to 14.
The cheer team, along with Biola Dance Crew, is under University Communications & Marketing because it is a marketing tool, with its biggest event being Midnight Madness on Nov. 8. Midnight Madness falls on University Day, a major admissions day that attracts many prospective students.
This year, at Midnight Madness and during halftime at men’s basketball games, fans will experience performances by both the Biola Dance Crew and the Biola Cheer Team. The dance crew will be performing a dance routine, while the cheer team will engage the Biola crowd with cheers and chants.
Spirit as a Lifesyle
Washington hopes having two different teams working alongside each other will provide entertainment that everyone can relate to.
“Either way, we all end up in the same place in spirit and pride in our university,” Washington said.
Washington is a 2012 Biola alum with a background in both dance and cheer. While coaching cheer camps with United Spirit Association, she learned that spirit is a lifestyle and she finds the idea of spirit applicable to our Christian faith – an idea she fosters in both teams.
“We are to be bold in the Lord. Practically, spirit means caring about the university doing well and making sure the athletes feel supported,” Washington said.
Though the cheer team was primarily created to cheer for men’s basketball, Washington hopes to expand to other sports such as soccer, volleyball and baseball.
“I want to make sure each sports team feels supported by the [cheer] team,” Washington said. She also hopes that having the Biola Cheer Team will boost overall school spirit.
The captains are excited to start cheering at games and they hope to start seeing more people turn out for sporting events. But their vision for the team transcends sheer numbers ― they see school spirit in a biblical light.
“We definitely want to glorify God with this team,” Cookman said. “That’s our entire vision.”