VIDEO: Webster University cheerleaders kick off season with increased numbers
By Josh Sellmeyer and Evan Mueller
Even though she had been a varsity cheerleader all four years at Owensville High School, freshman Meghan Steineker admits she was a little nervous about making the Webster University cheerleading team.
“I was really nervous, especially the first day when we had the clinic,” Steineker said. “There were a lot more girls there than I had expected. It wasn’t just like anybody was trying out. There were some girls there that actually knew what they were doing.”
Sixteen people attended the Webster cheerleading team’s clinic on Sept. 11 at Grant Gymnasium. On Sept. 18, eight people officially tried out for the squad — six made the team and two were cut.
According to Justin Barton, the cheerleading team’s inaugural adviser, it was the first time in Webster cheerleading history that cuts were made.
Video shot and edited by Gabe Burns and Evan Mueller
The squad will cheer at men and women’s basketball games this fall, which are the only sporting events for which they cheer. The cheerleading team typically practices once a week throughout the year, including the summer months. Kamper said the squad will attempt to practice one or two more times a week this year, and missing the team’s events will not be acceptable.
“As captain I’m implementing an absence rule,” Kamper said. “As some people saw last year at games, we didn’t have as many girls as we had on the squad and that was an issue. This year, with all the new girls coming in, they already know that they have to show up. It will look better at the game whenever all of us are always there.”
[pullquote]”We decided making cuts this year was probably the best thing to do to help with the quality of the program. It was all based on a fair scoring rubric. We followed a strict rubric in regard to the technical skills that the cheerleaders needed to complete at the tryouts,” Barton said.[/pullquote]
Cheerleading as an organization
Cheerleading is not one of the fourteen official sports at Webster. Although Barton would like to see the team be classified as an athletic activity, it is a category that does not yet exist.
“We are not considered a student-club organization, nor are we considered a sport,” Barton said. “We’re kind of in limbo, which allows us to be exclusive.”
New adviser brings cheering, coaching experience
Barton, who is also Webster’s Retention Initiatives Program Coordinator, has been promoting the cheerleading squad on campus this semester in his first year as adviser. Although he brings 14 years of experience and three national championships with him from Jefferson Community College in Hillsboro, he will be leaving all the choreography and coaching to Jacquie Winston.
Winston is in her eighth year as coach. Winston has a full-time job outside of campus, so Barton was brought in to be an on-campus resource for the program.
Promoting the squad
Barton, along with team captain Alysha Kamper, led a marketing charge that helped push several women to try out for the team. Barton created a cheerleading team page on the Involved @ Webster website. He added that his position as Webster’s retention initiatives program coordinator helped in the recruitment process.
“With my current full-time position, I have a lot of relationships with students on a professional basis,” Barton said. “I talk to students all day long. Them knowing what my background was coming into the program and me having conversations with them helped ignite some of the excitement in the program.”
Kamper said she talked to her classmates about joining the squad, helped create the flyers that were posted around campus and chalked Webster’s sidewalks to let students know about the tryouts. Additionally, the Webster cheerleading team was at the Involvement Fair.
“I actually went on the Involved @ Webster page and I looked into that,” Steineker said. “Then I went to the Involvement Fair and I heard about it there…It’s what I love to do. I cheered in high school, like that was my thing. I didn’t want to give it up for college because I enjoyed it so much in high school.”
The six new cheerleaders were asked to pay $250 to purchase a uniform and a pair of shoes and poms, which will cover them for as many years as they are in the program. The clothing and equipment will be theirs to keep.