Game day through the eyes of Hawk cheerleaders
At any given basketball game at St. Joe’s, two things are to be expected: the hawk mascot will flap its wings, and the cheerleaders will be sure get the crowd going.
When the St. Joe’s cheerleaders aren’t gearing up for nationals in Orlando, Florida, they are responsible for cheering on the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The team of 37 cheers at home games, Big 5 games, the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Alyssa Trybus has been cheering on game days since she was a freshman.
“It’s just us and the players on the court,” Trybus said. “It’s a good environment, and I like how we can contribute to the basketball team just doing what we do.”
Half of the cheer roster pulls double duty in going to competitions and games, while the other half is responsible for game day only. When there is a basketball game, the cheerleaders arrive two hours early to warm up and greet fans. They engage with fans by handing out programs and posing for photos.
Once the players take the court to the tune of “When the Hawks Go Marching In,” the cheerleaders follow and bring the enthusiasm. Accompanied by the dance team, they get the crowd pumped up for the game.
“They definitely give it their all on the sideline to make it an enjoyable experience for the fans and the team,” assistant coach Nicole Kingsland ’13, M.A. ’14 said. “Win or lose, whether we’re up by 10, they have a huge presence and they have to be vocal and loud to make it a good experience for everyone.”
Cheerleaders can also be spotted representing the school at important campus events, such as the track dedication in 2017 and the mass for James Maguire this previous fall.
Though the team is a crucial part of the university, it is not considered a Division I sport under title IX, which gives men and women equal opportunity in education as well as athletics.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to recognize cheerleading as a sport, so it is possible that in the future it could gain NCAA athletic status. For now, the team enjoys the perks of travelling with the basketball team and being involved in the school’s favorite sport.
Senior Kellie Barnes is a sports marketing major, so being part of the game day experience could be beneficial in the future.
“My favorite part [of cheer] is being able to be a representative of the school,” Barnes said. “I love sports and being at basketball games. I also love being behind the scenes.”
The Hawk cheerleaders will split up and travel to the women’s Atlantic 10 championships in Richmond, Virginia. on March 2 and the men’s conference championships in Washington, D.C. on March 7. They’ll attend nationals in Daytona Beach on April 5.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that nationals is in Orlando, when it is actually in Daytona Beach.