WC cheerleaders ready for 2016-17 season


Just like the sports teams they cheer for, Weatherford College cheerleaders have to prepare themselves for the season. Many hours of work and practice go into their preparation, and like their teams, the work pays off once the season gets underway.

"WC cheerleaders are a valued and integral part of the WC athletic program, said Liz Osina, WC Cheer Coach. “This team knows that they have a vital role to play this year. They know that the leadership and support they provide during a game can possibly make the difference between a win and a loss for our teams. What they do on the sidelines and what they take on the floor to help the crowd let the teams know they are supported and appreciated has to be organized as well as entertaining. That's a lot of responsibility, and it doesn't happen without a lot of planning, knowledge and preparation. It takes hard work, commitment and a lot of heart."

Much like the athletes on the teams, cheerleaders begin developing skills and participating in cheer programs at a young age, some even before their 10th birthday. Many WC cheerleaders got their start in peewee cheer, followed by excellent middle school, high school and competitive cheer programs.

Some have also spent years training in tumbling and stunting to sharpen and advance their skills. In other words, just like becoming a college athlete doesn't happen overnight, requiring years of training and commitment, so does cheerleading.

Many will argue that being a cheerleader is being an athlete. It's hard to dispute that, given the challenges of competitive cheerleading and its rise in popularity.

"On the surface, transitioning to college cheer and being ready for this season should be a natural step for them. But here's what's really involved," Osina said. "First and foremost is academics. The primary goal is to successfully move forward towards the achievement of a college degree."

Cheerleaders, like all WC athletes, are required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of course study with an overall grade point average of 2.0 or better at each semester's end.

"It really takes strong organizational and time management skills," Osina said.

Also, as ambassadors for WC, cheerleaders are required to participate in community service events when possible and serve as positive role models at all times.  

Cheerleaders practice approximately eight hours per week during scheduled class times and are expected to work on skill maintenance and improvement outside of team practice hours. They also have to be very familiar with the National Junior College Athletic Association rules and regulations for basketball.

"To contribute effectively, they must know the game and be keenly aware of what's happening during a game at all times," Osina said. "The demands are high, but the benefits are greater. These young men and women develop such strong lifelong leadership skills and find the best within themselves through this experience."

Athletic teams that aren't properly prepared often lose their first game, whereas teams that are prepared often come away victorious. The same is true with cheerleaders if they want to make a good impression the first time the home crowd sees them.

"Someone once said, 'You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,'" Osina said. "As student-athletes and ambassadors for WC, they're off to a great start. They were introduced and performed at the Coyote Basketball Booster Club's Meet the Teams event. They've also participated in two community service events.  And most importantly, they've each worked hard to successfully complete over half a semester of coursework. They know, though, that the first game performance is the true 'first impression' for their team."

Sophomore captain Mia Heck of Peaster said she realizes the importance of the team’s role.

"Our community looks forward to the start of the WC basketball season, and we have so many loyal fans that attend the games,” said Heck. “It’s crucial to be at our best for those who dedicate so much of their time and hearts to support WC."

"As captain, it's my job to stress to the team that it's so important to be prepared, then make sure we are," said sophomore captain Mikki Solkema.

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Dealing with injuries is also part of cheerleading. Osina said her squad has been in good shape this season.

"Cheerleading is definitely physically demanding, she said. "We've had to see our trainer a couple of times. Overall, we've been fortunate. These young men and women are very conscious of safety measures."

And, among their most important duties perhaps, cheerleaders, like athletes, can be positive role models. Heck said this is something she and her teammates relish.

"There will always be a little girl or boy in the stands who looks up to the college cheerleaders. Because I am that role model for some, I want to ensure that they see how important it is strive for excellence," she said. "They may just be the next WC cheerleader, so it is important that they have a good example to look up to."

Freshman team member Ruben Perez, from Azle, cut through the stress of the preparation succinctly.

"Coach just wants what's best for all of us," he said. "I told her, 'Don't worry.  We've got this.'"

2016-17 Weatherford College Cheer Team
cheer team captains

 Captains:

  - Mia Heck, sophomore, Peaster

  - Mikki Solkema, sophomore, Weatherford

  - Destinee Shahan, sophomore, Woodson

  - Bailey Brown, sophomore, Ponder

cheerleading team

  Freshmen Team Members:

  - Bryah Montoya, Ft. Worth

  - Brenyn Anothayanontha, Azle

  - Cierra Christopher, Plano

  - Fidel Vasquez Mesa, Azle

  - Kaylyn Howerton, Weatherford

  - Lara Turner, Azle

  - Lyndsey Gullett, Ft. Worth

  - Makayla Cantu, Mineral Wells

  - Raelee Hall, Azle

  - Ruben Perez, Azle

 

 Mascot: David Dancer, freshman, Ft. Worth

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by Rick Mauch

 

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