Graduates of the cheer and dance teams reflect on their time at St. Joe’s
Every basketball game, St. Joe’s students come out to see the Hawks dominate the court. When fans come out to a game, there is never a second during which they aren’t entertained. Of course there are two halves of exciting basketball, but there are also timeouts and a 15-minute halftime. This is where the St. Joe’s cheer and dance teams shine.
Most of the cheerleaders and dancers who are graduating this year have put four years into entertaining students and fans with little tangible benefit. The cheer and dance teams are not recognized as official NCAA Division I sports, so there are no scholarships associated with them despite the many hours put into practices and games.
The graduating members of the St. Joe’s cheer team are Samantha Byron, Nicole Fisher, Alexandria Hutta, Keiya Rankin, and Georgie Streb. Cassie Boone, Stephanie Garvey, and Allison Simpson are all graduating dancers.
There are other benefits to being a member of the St. Joe’s cheer and dance teams, as their numbers have increased greatly over the last four years. The cheerleading team has so many members, they are divided into three teams: the competition team, the stunt team, and those that we see at basketball games.
While cheerleaders and dancers are not given the opportunity to receive athletic scholarships, they are still acknowledged by the school.
“We have certainly been recognized and appreciated by the school,” Streb said. “We have traveled with the Basketball teams as well as gotten support for our personal NCA [National Cheerleading Association] Nationals. I think every aspect of Game Day helps bring spirit to the school, and I was lucky enough to be part of it.”
Something that resonates with the St. Joe’s cheerleaders and dancers is that there are more benefits to doing an activity than receiving scholarships or being able to put it on a résumé, a concept all college students can learn from.
“Winning at nationals and placing is worth the cost of not being a scholarship team,” Byron said of her time cheering for the last four years.
The graduating cheer team has had their share of success, placing second the last three years in a row at Nationals, and __ their freshman year. The dance team competes at National Dance Alliance (NDA) nationals in the pom and hip hop categories. In the Division I hip hop competition, the Hawks have consistently placed in the top three over the last four years and have also placed in the top three in pom the last three years.
Despite their successes, the cheer and dance teams could not receive funds.
“The lack of scholarship or any financial compensation for my time did not deter me from joining the team because it was always just about cheerleading,” Hutta said. “No factors could affect how much I enjoy being a part this program or my passion for cheerleading.”
The lack of scholarship has not always been easy for members of the cheerleading and dance teams, as they are required to pay for their uniforms and for any competitions they go to. The financial hardship, however, does not compare to the experience of being on one of these teams.
“We put in just as much, if not more, effort than the D1 teams and have to pay for almost everything ourselves,” Garvey, a dancer, said. “To have that kind of recognition from the school where they are granting us financial compensation is something we will always strive for. This team is so much more than scholarship money that I would still audition over and over again knowing this after these past years.”
The Hawk cheerleaders and dancers live out the St. Joe’s motto of being people with and for others, as they do everything they do for the spirit of the community.
“In the moment when we are practicing for 13 hours it very well seems that it [our effort] goes unnoticed,” Garvey said. “No one sees that time and work that we put into practice and to perfecting our routines. But when we perform at the men’s and women’s basketball games and hear feed back from our peers, family and fans, we know that the time and effort we put in is worth it.”
It is hard to imagine basketball games without Hawk cheerleaders and dancers who embody the THWND spirit.