WWU cheerleaders work together
to bring spirit to basketball games
By Leigh Rice
Last year, when new cheerleading coach,
Brianna Barnard came to William Woods, she
brought with her exciting expectations for the
William Woods cheer squad. At the time, the
squad acted more as a club providing school
spirit at the university basketball games.
Barnard wanted something more, though, and
began a rigorous training program to prepare
the squad for competition quality. One year
closer to their first season as a competing squad,
co-captains Allison Strickland and Samantha
Russell help prepare their teammates for what
The two amiable captains are as different as
night and day, bringing leadership qualities
that make them the ultimate pair. Russell’s
background in cheerleading provides a sense
of direction when correcting cheer moves or
offering tips for pulling off the perfect jump.
Strickland, the more organized of the two, keeps
the squad moving forward without any chaos.
Between organizing practices, constructing
new cheers, and designing game choreography,
Russell and Strickland have learned to balance
their academic careers as well.
Being on a college squad is much more time
consuming than what I experienced on my
high school squad. We have longer games,
longer practices and a very different collection
of cheers than what I was used to. In college,
it’s all about making simple cheers to increase
our crowd participation,” said Russell, who has
been cheering since fifth grade.
It’s interesting because I actually did not plan
on joining the squad at first. When I finally
decided to and realized we would have a coach,
I was so excited to see what she would be able
to do. Without a coach, there is no structure, no
matter how many captains you have.”
Russell was not the only one excited about the
possibilities of a coach. When Strickland found
out that a new cheerleading coach was offering
the opportunity to compete, she was excited
to learn what being on a squad took. With no
cheerleading background, she showed up for
tryouts and earned her spot on the squad.
I was terrified at first, but the preparation
before tryouts really helped,” said Strickland.
Since joining the squad, Strickland has grown
to love the sport. “I love the challenges of
cheerleading. There are so many things to learn,
especially with stunting.”
The two girls captain a squad that actually
consists of two squads: the spirit squad and
the performance squad. The spirit squad is
designed for the student-athlete who enjoys
cheerleading, but would rather focus more on
their academic career. The performance squad
is designed for the student-athlete particularly
interested in competing. The practices are
longer, and the cheers and movements are more
advanced and difficult.
It was so great to be able to walk into a group
and see the excitement of the girls, especially
Allie and Samantha. They were so eager to learn
how to become a competing squad. And with
that eagerness, they’ve never been afraid to
ask how to do something correctly or to teach
someone who wasn’t quite sure if they were
doing it right,” said Barnard.
Besides the responsibility of correcting moves,
teaching cheers and organizing for games,
practices and much more, Russell and Strickland
work together to form a CourtWarming routine.
In high school, we were in charge of organizing
homecoming and festivals, but in the end
our coach made the final decisions. Here,
Coach [Barnard] gives us the final choice
and we decide on cheers and routines. It’s
very interesting how much more trust and
responsibility comes with a college captain
position,” said Russell.
Katy Carron and Coach Brianna Barnard spot co-captain Allison
Strickland, while Alaina Leverenz bases her during a “one-man”
Photo by Meghan Greenwalt)
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