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Cheerleaders bond at annual retreat

Developing a team attitude was a theme for the University cheerleading squad at their annual summer retreat last week.

The week-long retreat held on and off campus provided team building activities as well as the first opportunity for the team to reacquaint themselves with the system since school let out in May.

Strength and conditioning coach Kyle MacDonald said the retreat was especially important for incoming freshman.

‘The whole team bonding aspect really helps break the ice for the freshmen, while also giving returners the opportunity to knock off rust,’ he said.

In an effort to establish team camaraderie, some of the upperclassmen provided housing throughout the week for the freshmen.

‘It is a really good opportunity to bring everyone closer together,’ senior Steve Krekus, said. ‘It’s a chance to see what each person brings to the program.’

Krekus is a member of the co-ed squad which not only cheers at Falcon games, but also in competitions throughout the school year.

Senior Kelly Mogg, another member of the co-ed squad, is excited for the start of the season.

She said coach Anne Marie King is emphasizing a different perspective than in years past.

‘I think we all have less of a self-centered approach and more of a team attitude for this year,’ Mogg said.

MacDonald said the beauty of the retreat is that the team had a chance to bond both in and out of the gym.

The team spent a few days practicing and conditioning, but team dinners including a cookout, a bowling outing and team photos highlighted the retreat.

Senior Kali Willeke thought the retreat was beneficial and is ready for the upcoming season.

‘We have a lot of talent and with having a lot of returners, we are starting where we left off last season as far as skill level,’ she said.

Willeke co-captained the all-girl squad last season, but will compete on the newly created ‘small co-ed’ team this season.

While co-ed sees a lot of returners, the all-girl or ‘AG’ squad will mainly be comprised of freshmen.

Despite the lack of experience, Willeke said the team will provide enough leadership to succeed.

She also said that unlike University varsity sports, cheerleading does not have scholarships, but that shouldn’t take away from their meaning.

‘The University does a good job over covering our travel expenses, uniforms and stuff like food and I think that makes up for no scholarships,’ she said.

The squad also does a lot of internal fundraising in the summer like working at Cedar Point for a weekend or the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic golf tournament.

Between now and the start of the fall semester, which coincides with the start of official team practices, Mogg said the team has a chance to work on strengths and weaknesses.

‘The retreat was a launching point for the season and I think we all got off to a good note,’ she said.

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