By Grace Cardinal, Staff Writer
Manhattan College cheerleading wrapped up their yearly tryouts last week, welcoming seven new members to the team. Manhattan Cheer has made a name for itself in the last few years through various performances at basketball games, yearly performances at the MAAC tournament, and by challenging the traditional ideals of cheer through accepting students based on attitude, not just skill.
Even when not in uniform, the team can be seen around campus cheering on their friends in other sports and keeping campus spirit high. The team’s performance at the club fair last week was just the beginning of what they have planned for the upcoming school year.
“We’re going to London in November, so we’re currently fundraising for that which is really exciting,” junior Emily Gianni said.
Gianni is a third-year cheerleader on the team and serves as the cheer team’s manager and fitness coordinator.
“Overall for the season, I’m excited to get to know the new girls on the team through team bonding activities, and to participate in madness and the MAAC,” Gianni said.
Members of the team are excited for the upcoming sports season and the opportunity to cheer on players in person once again.
“This upcoming season is exciting, but a little sad because it’s my last one, but I’m just excited to get back on the court and cheer on our Jaspers like always,” said Taryn O’Connell, a senior and fourth-year member. “It’s exciting to be back in the uniform and just feels good to be there supporting our school.”
This year, along with many new additions, the team welcomes back their 17 returning members. The team makes a conscious effort to spend time on team bonding. According to Gianni, this leads to a family atmosphere that is appealing to many of the members and continues to draw new members in each year.
“We really like to build a tight-knit community between us,” she said, “You have your class friends, your roommates, your friends you hang out with on the weekends, but then cheer friends are people you can always go back to, and the coaches too. They’re great people to always reach out to if you need help.”
O’Connell echoed this sentiment saying, “The team teaches you structure, I think also like the family aspect of it. It kind of gives you a home away from home, when you’re feeling a little homesick you know you have a second family.”
Sophomore Caitlin Haiduk spoke on her experience as a new member on the team.
“All the girls are so excited to help all the rookies learn new stuff,” she said. “I have so many questions, and it makes me not feel overwhelmed when they answer because they’re always so positive in their answers.”
While Manhattan College Cheerleading is considered a club by the college, the members of the team consider it a sport due to the rigorous activity, time, and energy they put into the organization weekly.
“I feel like sometimes people think it’s just about jumping up and down the sidelines for the basketball team,” O’Connell said. “I wish more people understood how much of an impact it actually has on you mentally and emotionally as well as physically.”
Many members of the team expressed their frustration with not being taken seriously as athletes on campus.
“We’re more than just girls with pom poms,” Casey Schellberg, a fourth year member and team manager, said. “We spend a lot of time perfecting our stunts, performances, and jumps.”
Despite missing out on the benefits of being considered an athlete at the school, student engagement supports the team and their needs by providing them with many fundraising opportunities.
“I think it’s good that we’re a club, but also bad,” Gianni said. “It’s good because we get benefits through student engagement because they’re super helpful and they love having us as a club so they give us as much help as we need to go to MAAC. They fund different events for us, and they hold madness, which is super cool.”
The team says they’re ready for a successful season.
“I’m just excited to get the season started,” rookie Chloe Gennarelli concluded.