Colton Swanson, Online Reporter
The Raiders cheerleading squad has undergone a plethora of changes within the past year. The cheer captain for the 2016-17 season is Kaitlyn Ross, joining co-captains Syntaira Garnes and Avery Laurin. Ross, better known as “Ginger” by her teammates, will be entering her second year on the cheer squad along with Laurin. For Gates, this will be her first year on the team and she expects a lot from them.
“I want everyone to look good,” Gates said. “I don’t want us to go cheer at a basketball game and have everyone think that we are a joke. The hardest part about cheerleading is doing the stuff that we do and then making it look easy.”
Showing everyone that there’s so much more to the sport of cheerleading than meets the eye is important to this year’s captains.
“My personal goal is to make everyone understand that this is a sport, we do everything that other sports do,” Ross said. “We should be considered a sport here and we should be treated as athletes, not just as an activity. We put in just as much time, if not more, into what we do than other sports.”
The cheer team isn’t a dance team, Laurin said.
“A lot of people think that we’re not athletes because we wave pompoms,” Laurin said. “If you came to one of our practices, you wouldn’t be walking the next day. What other sport does handstand hops as conditioning?”
The cheer team’s practices include conditioning for both strength and endurance. Even before games, the team will practice their routines and perfect their movements behind the scenes that the public doesn’t see.
“We are the only sport that makes sweating look cute,” Laurin said.
Tryouts for the 2016-2017 cheer season were held at the end of August with new head coach Anthony Wilson leading the charge.
Wilson has 10 years of cheerleading experience and will aim to take his squad to the next level. He was officially announced as the team’s coach on May 7 via the Pierce College Raider Cheer page on Facebook. Wilson will be replacing coach Kay, who served as the Raiders head
coach for the past three years.
“He is a cheer god,” Laurin said. “He can make anyone into a cheerleader, it doesn’t matter what you do. He is the Beyoncé of cheer.”
The Pierce cheerleading team is funded by student programs along with fundraising done by the squad throughout the season. The team is part of the Northwest Athletic Conference and supports the Pierce athletic clubs.
The cheerleading squad is most often found performing their routines at basketball games and supporting college events.
They also participated in the Western Rodeo Parade and Cattle Drive on Sept. 9 along with other members of the college. There, they gave out candy, posed for pictures with parade goers and demonstrated parts of their routine while
moving through the streets of downtown Puyallup.
“We’re planning on doing more community based stuff,” Ross said. “We’re for sure going to have a cheer camp for younger kids at some point. We’re trying to be more community based because even the community doesn’t know that we are here.”
A few returning names will sport the Raider uniform along with the newcomers. The captains were named on Aug. 23 and will lead the new
members by example in each performance. Cheerleaders Kiki Swanson, Nhan “Nathan” Ta, Emilee Soeum and Sarah Nadeau were all announced as being part of the team on May 23 while Nini Noun, Mikayla Smith and Kayla Oxborough were announced on Sept 1. Some new
members are expected to be announced as well as the cheerleading team is holding private tryouts for a few more weeks.
“We have had two or three team practices together and they already have it down,” Gates said. “They picked it up really fast. It’s not just a team, it’s a family.”
One of the team’s goals is to make it to competitions and to make the team’s stunts solid, Laurin said.
“We want people to know that there is cheer outside of high school,” Ross said. “You don’t have to stop your dream once you graduate.”
For students who are hesitant about joining the cheer squad or feel that they don’t have the talent, Laurin says not to worry.
“You can come with nothing, you don’t even have to know how to do a cartwheel,” Laurin said. “If you come with nothing but you want to be there and you’re ready to work, you can become a beautiful cheerleader in no time.”
The Raider cheerleaders hope to continue their success from recent years and to bring energy and excitement to students and fans alike during the season. Raider Cheer can be followed by liking their Facebook page, Pierce College Raider Cheer and by staying up to date with their page on the school website at Pierce.ctc.edu.
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