Cheerleaders battle adversity to prepare routine for conference contest

02/08/08

“Give me an ‘I’! Give me an ‘N’! Give me a ‘J-U-R-Y’!” What does it spell? Baker’s 2007-2008 cheer squad.

Riddled with injuries, Baker’s cheerleading squad has seen two team members already sidelined this season. However, torn cruciate ligaments, ankle sprains and shoulder injuries are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a season filled with adversity.

“We have had some issues this year,” co-captain Allyssa King said. “But we’ve been working really hard, and after moving some people around, we will be ready for the (Heart of America Athletic Conference).”

The season started off according to plan, but ever since the choreographer came to teach the initial routine, the season has been anything but.

“Shortly after we learned the routine, we started losing team members for various things,” King said. “We’ve lost several to injuries, some to failing to make grades and others for breaking team rules.”

The only male member of the cheerleading squad, co-captain Jeremy Webb, tore his anterior cruciate ligament earlier this season during a stunt at practice.

“I stepped down wrong catching a cradle and my knee buckled,” Webb explained.

Losing Webb meant the cheerleading squad would have to change from the co-ed to the all-girl division, King said. Webb is considered to be a dominant back spot for the program.

“At first we were worried how we were going to replace Jeremy. People have had to fill in places,” King added. “All of the replacements, however, have done a great job.”

The squad, who began the year with 25 members, is now down to 18, head coach Cathy Ritter said. While most teams would struggle with personnel changes occurring mid-season, Ritter’s team is not worried.

“The group has done a great job dealing with the adversity. The girls just keep moving on and working well as a team,” she said.

The progress could not come at a better time. With the conference championships a week away, the squad has finished tweaking the routine and is practicing vigorously to ensure they put on a good show for the Baker community.

“We definitely want to make the university proud since we are hosting the event this year,” Ritter said. “The routine is coming together nicely. I’m really proud of the squad.”With the work that goes into hosting a HAAC tournament, as well as the arduous efforts put forth to perfect the routine, the Baker cheerleaders are certainly keeping busy.

“We practice Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. every day,” King said. “Additionally, we have had weekend practices and even night practices if we see something we want to correct.”

Their hard work will be put to the test Feb. 16 when the rest of the conference visits Collins Center for a chance to compete for the HAAC title.

“Since we are hosting the HAAC, it would be really nice to get a big turnout from the Baker students,” Ritter said. “The cheerleaders are always on the sidelines supporting the football and basketball teams, so it would be nice if the other athletes at Baker returned the favor.”

Those students will get their chance at 11:45 a.m., when the doors open to the public.

Admission is free for college students with their university IDs, King said.