Tentative steps turned into confident strides as young cheer enthusiasts walked into the Multi-Activity Court Gym in the Wade King Student Recreation Center.
Western’s cheer team held a youth clinic open to children and young teens in kindergarten through eighth grade Saturday, Feb. 4. The event included a cheer performance at the women’s basketball game later that evening.
The participants performed at halftime, showing off the cheers and dances they learned earlier in the day.
Nicole Keller, the cheer adviser for Western’s cheer team, who used to cheerleader and coach, said the cheer clinic has evolved over the years. The annual clinic has been going on since the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, said Steve Brummel, the associate athletics director for facilities and operations.
Keller said the team used to travel to different elementary, middle and high schools to do the
event and now hosts it on Western’s campus.
“It’s education and it’s giving youth in our community an opportunity to get physically active and engaged in something,” Keller said. “It just gives them another outlet to find some passion and excitement in physical activity.”
Keller said the clinic is a great way to educate the community about Western’s athletic department and the opportunity athletics can bring and how much Western values its student athletes.
“Sometimes when we’re doing, doing and doing we forget the aspects we so much enjoy. Through children’s eyes we get that opportunity to see the excitement of how amazing what we do is. I think we need that fresh set of eyes to speak to the child inside of all of us.”
“The leadership skills and the multitasking skills you learn as a student athlete is such a critical part of becoming a successful adult and community member,” Keller said.
Allowing the kids to see they can achieve any sports dream they have and showing them how to live a healthy life is what this clinic is striving to teach, Keller said.
“The youth inspire us,” Keller said. “Sometimes when we’re doing, doing and doing we forget the aspects we so much enjoy. Through children’s eyes we get that opportunity to see the excitement of how amazing what we do is. I think we need that fresh set of eyes to speak to the child inside of all of us.”
Giving children another outlet to begin learning how to stay well; whether it’s physically, spiritually or mentally well is also what Keller hopes to emulate from the community. Whatcom County has put a big emphasis on wellness to combat the obesity epidemic, Keller said.
Junior Rachel McCrady, a business marketing major, is one of the team’s co-captain. She can relate to how the kids feel because growing up, she used to participate in cheerleading clinics as well. McCrady said it has come full circle for her, being in the spot she once looked up to.
McCrady also spoke about the halftime performance the kids get to do and how much it means to them and the team.
“They get to come down on the court with us and perform,” McCrady said. “All their parents get to see them and they get their own little poms, face tattoos and bows during halftime. They love it and it’s a huge setting for them. It’s fun for the little kids to come down with us and perform together.”.
The other co-captain is senior Alexa Lowry, a recreation major. She said getting to expose the kids to meeting other people with the same interests and seeing every cheer start to click for them is great.
“I think it’s really fun to get them interacting with other people that have the same interests versus just being in school and being around their friends,” Lowry said. “Getting to be around people that want to do the exact same thing as you do is so much fun.”