by ELIZABETH METSCH, Contributor
Year after year we hear from the players and fans about how the MAAC tournament went, but what about the other teams that make this event come to life? The pep band, dance and cheer teams practice with the same diligence as the basketball teams when MAAC is approaching and look forward to it all season as well.
Jordan Bautsch has been on the cheer team all four years at Manhattan. She referred to the moment the men’s basketball team won the tournament and referred to it as an irreplaceable memory.
“MAAC is always exciting because you never know what to expect,” Bautsch said. “Hands down my favorite MAAC was when we won my freshman year. I’ve never seen smiles bigger than I did on that day. It was a moment to go down in history as we were back-to-back champs going to NCAA again.”
Though Manhattan hasn’t won the conference tournament since 2015, it is a great memory and something the senior members of the men’s basketball team and the spirit squads take pride in as a special moment in Jasper history.
A pep band senior, Allison Terranova, shared her feelings about the MAAC Tournament. She described the preparation of getting ready for MAAC and that the band takes a lot of pride in helping get the crowd involved and energized.
“We love when we hear the crowd starting chants and being just as energetic as we are,” Terranova said.
She also explained the opportunity to meet and compete with other bands. While the dancers do compete yearly in the spring, the cheerleaders and the band do not. MAAC is the pinnacle of the season for the basketball players, but also for the spirit squads as they get to interact and compete with other teams in the conference.
While it’s all definitely rewarding and meaningful, Taylor Malangone, a sophomore on the dance team, shed light on the fact that the days are very long and a lot goes into making the MAAC a success for each team beyond just the rehearsals.
Nikki Raymond, a freshman on the cheerleading team, agreed and spoke on that as well.
“While MAAC was slightly stressful and took up a lot of time, it was so worth it,” said Raymond. “Our team bonded a lot and the atmosphere at the arena was unexplainable.”
For her first year on the cheer team, this was also her first MAAC experience, and she loved it.
“It’s special to see all the other teams and to be able to travel, which is something we don’t usually get to do,” Raymond said.
The teams have to ensure all of their homework is done ahead of time, or that their tests can be proctored by their coaches. They typically provide a lot of their own food and drive back and forth to the tournament on a bus, though they were able to stay in a hotel during the 2017 tournament because of specific difficulties with the scheduling of games.
Because of the back and forth and 24/7 interaction with each other for a few days, the teams get pretty comfortable with each other. The tournament is a great chance to bond with their individual teams, as well as bond the spirit squads as a whole.
All of the early mornings and late nights, wins and losses, and personal sacrifice can be draining, but Bautsch explains, “We do it for the Jaspers! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”