Between a membership boost and a new coach, the Allegheny College Cheerleading Squad has had to brace waves of change, but they have not fallen behind.
With this year’s captains having to teach roughly 30 cheers, sideline dances, a halftime show and special dance for the homecoming game, including a Mac Miller song as a tribute to the late rapper, to a completely new group of faces, the stress can be overwhelming, according to Captain Samantha Medaglia, ’19.
“It’s a lot of material and definitely a lot to teach,” Medaglia said. “I would say the team did a really good job of picking things up fast and learning all of the material in a good amount of time for us to start going to the games and doing all of the stuff we do.”
The new members do not consist of strictly first-years. Of the six seniors on the team, three are new to the cheerleading squad this year, Medaglia said.
The captains agreed on how quickly their new faces were able to learn the moves.
“At first I was really nervous about basically starting a whole new team, but it really worked out very well,” Captain Taylor Looney, ’19, said. “Each of the teammates has something special and different about them, but we all work really well together.”
According to Looney, the squad has added six girls and three boys to the group this year.
Although technically new to college cheer, most of the new members have high school and middle school cheer experience. Katherine Leyonmark, ’22, cheered for seven years before coming to Allegheny.
“It’s a lot of experimentation and seeing what works and what doesn’t, but I think overall it’s a good team,” Leyonmark said. “I think we all work together pretty well.”
Although overwhelming at first, a large first-year class has allowed the senior members respite in knowing that the team will live on for many years after they depart Allegheny.
“It’s nice because now that all of the seniors will be leaving, we’re leaving the team in the hands of the first-years to start the new cycle of this team,” Medaglia said. “It’s nice because ‘all of the seniors’ isn’t half of the team so we’re not leaving the team behind with no one, so it’s nice that they’ll still have a big bulk of the team when we leave.”
As the squad begins a new cycle of life led by the first-years, they will be led by their new coach, who happens to be a former student of the squad’s previous coach.
Last year, former coach Carrie Mae, who coached at Allegheny for several years prior, told the squad she was moving out of state and had to step down.
“Last year’s captains wanted to find a new coach for this year,” Medaglia said. “We sent out a few things on Facebook looking for a new coach.”
New Ccoach Latasha Manning heard about the position from an ad on Facebook. She applied and, after an interview at Tarot Bean Roasting Company downtown, got the job.
“Carrie was my cheerleading coach when I was in high school, and she coached me all four years,” Manning said. “I try to run things like I know she would run a practice. She wanted everything to be just right.”
Manning was not stressed about having to coach a new group of people since they have all had cheer experience before.
“They’re all very receptive to learning new things, so it makes my job easier because they’re willing to go out there and try,” Manning said.
The squad has been enthusiastic about the change and have welcomed Manning with open arms.
“It’s cool that we have a generation of coaches,” Captain Alexandra Downer, ’21, said. “She really helps us know if we look good and lets us know how we’re doing.”
Manning is equally enthusiastic about watching the team grow from season to season.
“I’m looking forward to watching the team grow as the season goes on,” Manning said. “A lot of the same members cheer for basketball too, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they grow from football season to basketball season.”