By: Cullen McIntyre, Staff Writer
Formerly an official sport at USM, Cheering has made its return to USM in the form of a new Cheer Club.
USM has been without a cheering team for many years. The team has a deep history in the university, as the school was one called the Hilltoppers. This was only until the head of the cheerleading squad in 1967 held a student election to rename the mascot to what is now the Husky today.
Started by Haley Neal, a first year human biology major, the new Cheer Club has gained a lot of interest.
“I saw a post on Facebook that a couple of girls wanted to start a cheer team, so I got interested,” said Neal. “Not much had been done by the people, so I technically was the one that started it. I have done all the meetings, as well as selecting some captains to help me out as well.”
Cheering was last a recognized sport at USM in 2013/2014, said Al Bean, Director of Athletics. Neal hopes for it one day to be recognized as a sport again at USM.
“They have had a Cheer team before in the past, and it died out,” said Neal. “They had some issues in the last couple years in starting it, so they recommended it would be best to start as a club.”
Though as Neal discovered, starting a club itself can be challenging. “Starting it was kind of difficult,” she said. “Getting people to even acknowledge that I was trying to start something and even to get ahold of people was a little difficult.”
For this year, getting interest from other students has been no challenge at all.
“At first I really didn’t need any interest, I had 30 girls telling me they were interested,” Neal said. “Interest wasn’t the hardest part, it was more of getting the flow of it and finally getting everything moving.”
Neal, along with Cheer Club captain Gabriella Richardson hope to one day be recognized as an official sport at USM.
“I hope we become a team within the next couple years, I don’t really want to be just a club for very long, ” Neal said. With growing numbers and more interest, Neal will be able to achieve just that.
The Cheer Club still competes and acts like a typical college cheer team. “We do get to compete, and it’s the same requirements as a sport,” Neal said. “We just don’t have to do the study tables or won’t be able to play because of bad grades.”
Though most clubs are not allowed to hold tryouts, Neal said as the club is growing and gaining interest, they will begin holding tryouts. “As we are a club we are not allowed to hold tryouts technically, but as we are still trying to bring in girls as there is a lot of interest we will have to start holding tryouts,” she said.
The Cheer Club meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and then 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Fridays.The club is looking to add more more students and with more interest the club will hope to eventually move into becoming an official sport at USM once again.