The Western Washington University Cheer Squad is focused on promoting school spirit and encouraging students to get involved in school events and games.
Cheer at Western is a student-led program that practices three times a week and performs at two or three games a week.
In April, they host tryouts to build their team of 14 to 21 athletes, Head Coach Jenny Johnson said in an email interview.
This year they have performed at Western events such as Paint B’Ham Blue for WWU and Viking Madness.
“We went to move-in weekend this year and got to get the students excited for being back on campus and ready for the year,” Cheer Co-captain Ethan Huynh said. “I think that was my favorite event we got to do this year.”
The team is very involved in campus life and wants to encourage students to become involved as well.
“We don’t have Greek Life, we don’t have football teams, we don’t have something huge. So for us, we want to get involved and get other people involved. We like to give our school more spirit,” cheerleader Monica Luevanos said.
Along with back-to-school events, the team performs at all basketball games, most volleyball games and a few of the men’s and women’s soccer games.
The team works with Western athletics to try and provide a fun game-day atmosphere and be a good representation of Viking athletics, Huynh said.
The cheerleaders have been working hard to get ready for basketball season and are excited to be back after being gone all of last year due to COVID-19, Cheer Co-captain Faith Morse said.
Sometimes the team gets invited to go to games by other sports clubs. The cheerleaders can’t always go as a team but often go as students to give more school spirit.
“Not everyone goes to sports events,” Luevanos said. “They work hard, they’re practicing, they deserve support.”
The Cheer program at Bellingham Public Schools is very similar in promoting school spirit and community involvement.
“Every time I see our cheerleaders perform at school-based events I can see they are a really important part of the community,” Director of Athletics for the Bellingham School District Laurel Peak said. “They make a big difference in the school.”
The team cheers for more than just the school's major sports and are very involved in assemblies and leadership activities, Communications Manager for Bellingham Public Schools Dana Smith said.
The Viking Cheer team goes to local events too. On Saturday, Nov. 13 they performed at a community cheer event called CheerFest. The event was a showcase of local high school cheer and dance teams.
“It was pretty cool showing the high schoolers what we can do and hopefully it inspires them to be in Cheer in college,” Luevanos said.
She says the team has started doing stunts and tricks that they were just beginning to learn at the end of their 2020 season.
“We are a really hard-working team that loves cheerleading,” Huynh said.
Cheer is a family at Western that gives off a very positive atmosphere. They are all best friends and are very close, Johnson said.
“I truly believe they make a difference in students wanting to come here and a positive impression on our community,” Johnson said. “They are great people. They are my family.”