by Chloe Bachman
Digital Media Editor
Being a college athlete during the pandemic has created challenges because of schedule changes, cancellations and Zoom practices, but finally on Feb. 6, the Rochester University competitive cheerleading team participated in its first competition since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Pattie Glenn, Rochester University head cheerleading coach, said since this season has been a test because of the unknowns, making every practice or competition count has been extremely important. “For the most part, I feel that this season has been good considering the pandemic. Do I feel we could be further ahead if we had not had two months off? Absolutely! But I am proud of everyone who stuck it through.”
The cheer team’s first performance was a duel meet against Aquinas College. Rochester placed 2nd and earned a score of 47.97. The second performance of the day was the Saints Showdown in which Rochester competed against Indiana-Wesleyan University, Aquinas College, Marian University and Spring Arbor University. In the second contest, Rochester improved its score to 55.43.
This competition was also different because the RU cheerleaders had to perform twice in the day because of a conference rule that every team had to perform three times before the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference championship. Normally, the team would have had to compete four times before the championship. The WHAC changed the rule this year and lowered the number to three performances before the conference championship due to COVID-19 and the restrictions that had been put in place at the start of the competition season.
The cheer team athletes said they didn’t really know what to expect with the changes brought on by the pandemic, such as masks had to be worn at all times, teams had to stay socially distanced from one another, mats were sanitized in between every performance, and no spectators were in the arena.
Normally cheerleaders are able to move around freely and sit with friends or family from opposing teams during breaks. Sarah Liford, flyer and junior elementary education major, said, “It was strange not being able to have spectators because I am used to seeing my mom and dad at every competition supporting me. I also use the crowd to push me through our routine and feed off of other team’s support during the performance.”
Liford said at typical competitions, teams are allowed to sit at the front of the mat and encourage the team performing to keep pushing through their performance. Most cheerleaders use this energy from other teams and the crowd to be able to give everything they have.
Last season the Rochester University cheer team was able to complete its full season before COVID-19 entered the United States leading to a worldwide shut-down. The team finished the season with a routine that “hit zero,” meaning no point deductions were made during the routine.
Viola Warden, backspot and junior elementary education/learning disabilities major, said the team was extremely grateful for being able to have a regular-season before the shutdown was in effect. “I am grateful that I had the chance to compete one last time before all of the craziness started to happen. This last competition was very different from previous competitions,” she said.
The cheerleading team started in 2017 but has only been competing for the past two seasons. The team consists of five competing members: Allison Robilliard, Chloe Bachman, Sarah Liford, Sera Weaver and Viola Warden. The team is looking to add four more members next season.
The cheerleading team’s next competition is Feb. 27 at the WHAC Championship hosted by Concordia University Ann Arbor.