by RikkiLynn Shields, Senior Writer
Kaci Forren, the Manhattan College Cheerleading coach began her career as a cheerleader in the first grade. After being contacted by an MC cheerleader whom Forren formerly coached on one of her Trumbull Pop Warner teams, Forren was contacted for an interview and accepted the job in 2016.
“I started cheerleading when I was in first grade with Trumbull Pop Warner and ended my career as a competitive cheerleader in 2011 with 13 years of cheerleading under my belt! Throughout high school I was a coach and choreographer for Trumbull Pop Warner and loved it so much that I continued for a few years after. Time went by and I had to get back into cheer somehow so I became a tumbling instructor at the cheerleading gym that I cheered for, for many years then I finally landed my dream job with Manhattan College as the head cheerleading coach! Besides coaching Manhattan I am also a bartender and bar manager, and I am currently in EMT school and will be done in July!” Forren said.
Since 2016, Forren uses her 13 years of experience to create an environment that is both challenging yet enjoyable for everyone on the team.
“We have two different practices – coaches practice and captains practice. Coaches practices we work on stunting tumbling and anything else in between – more of the technical stuff. These are the practices when I choreograph the routines for the season throughout the season. We start with stretching warm ups and end with a little bit of strength and conditioning. If I feel something like a cheer or a dance needs to be tweaked I will take time to do that as well. Captains practices are held by our captains. They practice and teach new cheers and band dances for the season. They also go over anything else I have taught them for their routines but stunting and tumbling as they cannot do anything dangerous if I am not present. These two practices allow us to put in all the time we need for each aspect associated with cheerleading. On a game day we show up to Draddy an hour early, fully ready and immediately change into uniform. We begin stretching and practicing. During half time we warm up for the next performance. Sometimes we even come up with cheers and stunts on the spot to perform with the band and/or dance team!” Forren said.
Forren’s time at Manhattan has been an experience that has both affected her life as a cheerleader, but also as an individual.
“The experience has been amazing. I’ve learned so much about myself and my coaching style. I have all my girls over the years to thank for that. There are good times and bad times but that is all part of the sport. I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve experienced thus far because it has taught me so much,” Forren said.
For students interested in trying out for the cheer team, tryouts are being held in a different way compared to past years.
“This year we are doing tryouts a little differently. We are holding clinics before each tryout so the girls and guys trying out feel more comfortable and confident at their tryout. At each clinic we will go over proper stunting techniques, teach them a cheer, a band dance and teach them proper jumping techniques. We will also practice tumbling, and I will be able to spot them if need be,” Forren said.
If you’re looking to try out, Forren says the process is very simple, and welcomes anyone interested. While she recommends experience, there is no experience needed, and no reason to be intimidated or nervous.
“The tryout process is very simple. We start with stunting – I look at everyone’s technique and I have them do a variety of basic stunts. After that is done, if there is any other stunting talents they would like to show me they are able to do that as well. After stunting, I split everyone up into smaller groups depending on how many people are trying out. They perform the cheer they were taught, the dance and they execute two jumps of their choice,” Forren said.
Nicole Raymond, a sophomore Chemical Engineer major from Hillsdale, NJ and a co-captain of the cheerleading team began her career as a cheerleader in the third grade. Joining the cheer team made her transition from high school to college much easier and much more fun, providing her with a second family sooner than she expected.
“Our team is a great club to join with many benefits, most importantly gaining a second family. I have also personally experienced how being on the team has helped my time management skills by forcing me to stay on top of my school work, which is always good. I couldn’t imagine not being on this team and we look forward to adding new people to our family!” Raymond said.
Siobhan Riggsbee, a freshman psychology major from Englewood, NJ, the second co-captain of the cheerleading team began her career during her senior year of high school.
“Cheering has been the best decision I made since coming to school here. I have met some of the greatest people I know just from being on the team and I’m so happy to have a family on campus. They truly make school feel like home,” Riggsbee said.
For Riggsbee, game day consists of much more than intense practicing beforehand and showing up.
“For me getting ready for a game starts 2 hours before the game. I put on my uniform, do my hair and then apply my makeup. After that I usually head to the dining hall to eat a little bit before getting to the gym. We get to Draddy an hour early to stretch and warm up a pyramid, cheer, or routine to perform during our first time out. After that we do flags and spirit the players onto the court. Then we go and do intros, usually people stunt, jump, and spirit as each basketball players name is called for the starting line up. We then cheer on the sidelines until our timeout, we perform what we warmed up, and then cheer for the rest of the half. At half time we do the dance to our fight song, and then warm up another pyramid, cheer, or routine to perform during the second half. We cheer and perform through the second half, and then do the dance to the fight song again at the end of the game,” Riggsbee said.
Forren encourages anyone interested to tryout. The clinic
“Manhattan Cheerleading is very different that a lot of teams. I have a unique coaching style, and I’m able to adapt to everyone’s individual personality and needs. I like to call Manhattan cheer a little family because that’s what we are! We support each other and constantly lift each other up. Every member on the team is always allowed to speak up and share their ideas for routines, dances, cheers, etc.. we’re in this together! Lastly, just as much as I am their coach, I’m most importantly a friend and someone they can always come to in any time of need. My girls would confidently say that I would give anything for them,” Forren said.