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Cheer team rebuilds; aims to compete

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Published 2006-02-08T00:00:00Z”/>


Elaina Rusk

There’s more to cheerleading than bouncing ponytails, pompoms and short skirts.

The Chico State cheerleading squad is getting a face-lift this year as it moves toward a more traditional style of cheer.

“We really took three steps up,” said coach Tiffany Hayes.

Chico’s cheerleading program used to be very dance based, without much action. The team is beginning to look like the collegiate squads seen at the big universities. The new program will involve dynamic stunts, tumbling and the standard cheer and dance.

“They’re by far the best team I’ve ever had,” Hayes said.

Her expectations have been exceeded by so much because each woman came to the program with individual talent. They were able to come together and then start to perform with no time to practice.

“They’ve made my job very easy,” she said. “I don’t want to lose them.”

Co-captain Jenny Zec is a first-year student at Chico State and wants people to recognize cheer as a sport, not an activity.

“With the competitions, it is very much a sport,” Zec said.

On the basketball court the women are seen as sideliners, with a spotlight during halftime. But the crowd has started to react with the cheerleaders while the pep band is there to aid the cheering.

“Practices are extensive. It’s more than I ever experienced in high school,” Zec said. “We get better and better with every practice and there has been a huge improvement from our first practice to now.”

Sophomore captain Michelle DeBoever is the only returning member this year. The squad had to learn old cheers, create new cheers and choreograph a routine to the fight song. The squad has a cheer it performs twice a game, so the crowd has gotten a chance to memorize it and get involved. Having the pep band has helped the crowd root for the Wildcats.

“We really appreciate the pep band; they’ve been great,” DeBoever said. “It’s a huge asset to have them this year.”

Practices are regimented now that all of the hard work is done and they can start moving forward, she said.

“You can’t build a pyramid without teamwork,” DeBoever said.

The teamwork is vital to keep working toward competition, so the squad is searching for more able-bodied men and women for next year’s team. This year the squad expanded from five to 18 women, and next year they expect to get 10 women and 10 men.

During this important recruitment period, Hayes wants incoming first-year students and males to understand that cheerleading is a growing program. They are promoting the team to try and get as many people to try out as possible.

“There are a lot of good athletes at Chico State,” Hayes said. “We just need to put them together.”

At the gym the team has really come together both physically and emotionally and outside of the gym they do everything together, Hayes said.

Currently the women are just cheering for men’s and women’s basketball, but it’s only a matter of time before they get asked to do different sports. As of now, not many people know about the improvements made to the team.

“The girls make it look so easy,” Hayes said.

Once the women cheer through an entire women’s game, they only have a 10-minute break before they have to start all over again for the men’s team.

“That’s a long time to be doing it over and over again,” Hayes said.

These women have to stunt, tumble on hardwood floors and display unwavering endurance.

“We do practice, but when you get to the college level then each person is expected to know everything necessary,” Hayes said. “I want them to be so sore that they can’t drive home afterwards, but I understand that they have class the next day.”

The team plans to compete with the United Cheerleading Association next year. The team will also attend the UCA camp to improve skills and polish technique.

The squad has to wait to compete because their competition date for this semester falls on the weekend of the last basketball games.

Once they get the chance to compete, Hayes said that University of California, Davis will probably be their biggest rival because they are also starting a new program.

“We’re jump-starting at the same time,” she said.

Hayes said she thinks the team will impress people with their improvements since last season.

“I want everybody to come out and see us and not have images of last year,” she said. “That’s not a good taste to have in your mouth. I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised.”

Elaina Rusk can be reached at

<a href= “mailto:[email protected]”>mailto:[email protected]</a>

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        Cheer team rebuilds; aims to compete