Written and Media by Stephanie Rodriguez
The Papyrus interviewed GC’s Cheerleading coaches Sean Washington and Bonnie Jo Cole to help the community understand what the cheer team does and why they do it. The following are questions asked to both coaches.
When did the cheerleading team begin at Greenville College?
Bonnie Cole: “Cheerleading has, for the most part, always existed but has been a “club”. Which means it was student run, with an advisor to oversee routines/events. With the potential I have seen in the cheerleading world, I presented a proposal to GC that would help grow our cheerleading team and foster more school spirit within the GC Community and possibly compete in the future. The proposal was to hire a full time coach and be able to reach more students interested in cheering with the possibility of competing. Specifically, this new initiative would draw in new students that “fit” Greenville College with a passion to compete and tap into a growing market where Christians can make a major impact.”
How did you become involved with the cheerleading team?
Sean Washington: “After graduation, it was my intention to “let go” of the athletic event known as cheerleading. I had been involved in cheerleading in one form or another for 14 years. The Lord had other plans. After a year working as a Student Representative in the Financial Aid Department, the Lord began to stir in my heart as to the next step in my life. I have known for quite some time that my call was to work with youth and young adults in some capacity. After much prayer and consideration, I began to look for these opportunities. I received a call from a national cheerleading organization/ministry to let me know they had been informed of a coaching position that had recently become available. I knew if it was a cheerleading position, there were specific criteria that would have to be met for me to take the position. Greenville College Cheerleading encompassed all those requirements. After a fairly extensive interview process and lots of prayer, I accepted the position.”
Bonnie Cole: “With my experience and interest in cheering, I was excited to take over the responsibilities past down from the last advisor, Brianne Hair, 3 years ago.”
What is it like working with a bigger team this year?
Sean Washington: “This is my first year to be involved in GC Cheerleading, so I was not really aware of what it had been previously. For me the 14 member co-ed team is about half of what I would like the program to be. But I am very content with the young men and women that are a part of the program and cannot wait to see this program grow even more in the future.”
How much time and effort is put in from the cheerleaders to learn routines?
Sean Washington: “There are no current “routines” to be learned, but lots of material. Routines come later in the form of half-time performances, competitions, and other events. As for the material, each cheerleader was given a video of all material (cheers, chants, dances, and fight song) that they were to learn outside of practice. During practice (4 times a week for 2.5 hours with an optional tumbling practice), we work on stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, and cleaning up any other choreography issues. Later in the year we will begin learning mini-routines as well as a competition routine (if the decision is made to compete this year). Normally 1-2 practices are needed to learn choreography and remaining practices are used to perfect the routines.”
Who comes up with routines?
Sean Washington: “Generally, the routines are choreographed by the coach with possible assistance from the cheerleaders or an outside choreographer.”
Bonnie Cole: “The cheerleaders have existing cheers they have done from year to year, but they revise them, and create new ones. Sean will also create routines for them; he reviews all the sidelines and routines to present the most professional looking routines to represent GC at its best. I personally do not create any sidelines or routines.”
What are some of the changes being done this year?
Sean Washington: “The first goal is to grow the program. From what I have been informed, the program is larger than previous years. The second goal is to create and develop a more collegiate and competitive program. This is something we are planning to do physically as well as aesthetically. The team trains in weightlifting and conditioning two times a week outside of their normal practice time. Although it is more physical, the performances will have an increased amount of difficulty in skill and performance. Moving into other aesthetic changes, we have made changes to uniforms, poms, megs, etc. to bring the look into a more current collegiate look. We have also added males to the program.”
What is the Spirit scholarship?
Sean Washington: “The Spirit Scholarship is a recruiting tool used to bring in highly skilled cheerleaders. In order to receive a scholarship, athletes must not only meet normal team requirements, but also possess ability in higher level tumbling and stunting skills.”
What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish this year?
Sean Washington: “My main goal for the program is to establish a strong foundation and cornerstone to grow upon for the years to come. It is my hope that a difference is seen in the program under the new direction.”
Why is it important to be involved in the cheerleading team?
Sean Washington: “It is my belief that being a part of any organization/group/team is essential to young adults in assisting with growth, development, and life lessons. Pertaining to athletics, the mission of GC’s athletic department is to “foster Christian character, athletic development, and academic achievement in a Christ-centered community.” I believe these elements are crucial in and out of the athletic realm.”