CWU was looking for the next team of cheerleaders for the 2019-20 season. Head cheerleading coach Kelsey Stephens has found them. There were around 30 students that tried out and 11 returners including Amelia Elliot, Captain Kyra Nelson and team Captain Madisen Baydo.
Cheerleaders perform at every home game for football and basketball rain or shine, according to fourth year coach Kelsey Stephens. Stephens was a gymnast and a coach for a team in Portland, Oregon and also coached at a gym in Hawaii for years. She found this job with CWU while teaching cheer privately when she was told about the job. Stephens said she has loved being a huge part of this team and being there for the girls. Stephens is an alumnus of CWU, she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2012. She ended up getting her masters degree from CWU in 2015. CWU cheerleading is not technically a sport at CWU, and falls under the club category, but they are under the direction of the Athletic department.
“We get to use the NCAA ruling… but we don’t get any funding and we’re not categorized as a sport with the NCAA,” Stephens said.
Picking up a routine in a small amount of time is something the team has to do sometimes. Sporting events can be back to back so the need to learn on the fly is something the team has to do according to Stephens. At the end of the tryouts, Stephens, along with a panel of three other judges sat down with each student trying out and asked a list of questions. The goal is to find out if they have their mind in the right place and the drive to be a Wildcat cheerleader, which, according to Stephens, is something to be very proud of.
“I love these athletes. I love this team. I love this school,” Stephens said. “I’m a huge fan of everything that this school has taught me.”
According to Stephens, each student that tries out for the team has potential to be cut from the team, regardless of their history with the team. If a student was on the team last year it does not mean that they are automatically on the team the next year. Everyone is given a fair chance to make the team. There are not any weight or height requirements either. Nelson and Baydo both give a tip for new tryout hopefuls.
“The most important thing to remember, is that we love what we do, and you can’t forget to remember that you love [cheerleading],” Nelson said.
CWU cheerleading has not been able to travel with the sports teams, because of funding for the team according to Stephens. They definitely want to get more of the opportunities that other GNAC cheerleading teams get. Some of the things that other schools have are, fully funded uniforms, the ability to travel with the teams, and cheer their college on during games. Stephens believes that the team works very hard, and deserves more recognition. Baydo, believes that community service will help show the school, and the GNAC that they deserve more funding. Stephens enjoys supporting all athletics at CWU, and hopes to have more opportunities to better the team.
“I love Kelsey, she will push me until I can’t go anymore. She comes to practice ready to work, and I love that I have a coach that is always making me better,” Baydo said.