New Changes for Next Year’s Spirit Squad

In May of 2006, the Minnesota State High School League voted to cut the girls’ fall dance team in favor of adding boys’ lacrosse as a sport. This decision was met with mixed responses as it affected about 3,500 girls who participate in dance team year-round. In addition to making boys’ lacrosse a MSHSL recognized sport, the fall dance cut was also supposed to eliminate any inequality and controversy surrounding the season in general.

Since the elimination of the fall dance team season, competitive season coaches would no longer be able to work with their team until the winter season began. Some teams found ways to get around this rule by hiring alumni or other willing coaches to coach their fall dance “club.” In the fall of 2006 however, BSM home game half-times would remain fairly quiet.

In the spring of 2007 decisions were being made to change that. Football parents including Mrs. Riley and Mrs. Ingalls collaborated with dance team parents, Mrs. Sifferlin, Mrs. Johnson, and Mrs. Sundberg to come up with a way to draw more of a fan base and add a little more spirit to BSM home football games. The result was what would become known as Spirit Squad. After several meetings with Mr. Pettinger, parents and dance team members, the creation of this completely student-run club was finalized. The idea of Spirit Squad was that it was to be open for anyone regardless of dancing skill or experience who had spirit and wanted to be a part of fun half-time performances. In addition to the performing squad, flag bearers and a Red Knight mascot were also added in hopes of drawing a bigger and more enthusiastic crowd.

In the end, a total of 40 girls joined spirit squad, some trying dance for the first time in their lives. All routines and practices were choreographed and led by senior dance team members, and the whole club was advised by faculty member Ms. McDonald. “It was a group effort,” said senior Courtney Johnson, “even though not all the girls had dance experience, everyone tried their best and had a lot of fun.”

Despite having a successful trial-run of Spirit Squad in the fall of ’07, more changes are in store for next year’s squad. No longer will the responsibility of running the club be put on senior members, but instead, a coaching staff will be hired. “The final decision was made this spring by Mr. Pettinger upon a recommendation from the dance team winter coaching staff that more of an adult presence be part of the spirit squad,” said dance team head coach Sadie Oraskovich. The idea is to make the squad more of an activity than a club and lift the responsibility of leading it from the senior members.

BSM will be working with Advantage Dance, a company founded and owned by Kelly Hegarty; “Kelly has been contracted on several occasions to work with our winter high kick team, and her insight and dance tips have been quite helpful to our winter high kick team,” said Oraskovich. Because of these new changes, a participation fee will be required of all who join.

This new change was met with mixed reactions from graduating and returning members as having a coaching staff will change the dynamics of Spirit Squad a little, but hopefully not completely destroy the original intent of the program. “I hope it continues to be something anybody can be a part of whether or not they have experience,” said senior Rachael Peck. Having an experienced coaching staff may add more pressure on those who have little experience but hopefully not turn them away from trying something new.

While the effect the addition of a professional coaching staff will have on Spirit Squad is yet to be determined, it will still remain a fun activity in which everybody is encouraged to join in and an opportunity to participate in a long-cherished half-time tradition.