Cheer not sponsored by Truman Athletics

The Truman State University co-ed cheer team performs at the University’s football and basketball games. While the team is not recognized by athletics, it is set up similarly to other teams as they have a coach and practices each week.

The team is not technically considered part of athletics because they do not participate in competitions, senior cheerleader Madie Ewing said. 

“We aren’t recognized as a sport by the University, which kind of stinks because many universities do recognize cheer as a sport,” sophomore cheerleader Sydney McLain said. “We do lots through athletics, and we get a bit of support from them, but at the end of the day, we aren’t really a sport.”

Truman Athletics still gives the team support if someone were to get injured, McLain said. 

Athletics also provided new uniforms to the team last year when the University went through a brand change, junior cheerleader Sophia Dolan said. However, with a new team and new cheerleaders, there weren’t enough uniforms, Dolan said. 

“With a new cheer team we didn’t have all the right sizes, and when we attempted to request a new order, it got lost in the system, which is sad because it means we can’t wear the great new uniforms they got us last year,” McLain said. 

Mclain said it was nice that the team did not have to fundraise for their own uniforms. 

This year, Athletics bought the team warmups for the colder football games, but they have not received the entire set, Dolan said. The team received the sweatpants at their second to last football game, but have not received their jackets yet. 

“That is kind of frustrating that everyone else, like all the other athletic teams, have gotten like personalized and customized gear at a relatively fast pace, and we just haven’t really gotten anything,” Dolan said. 

The team also wishes they would receive more communication from Athletics, Dolan said. Athletics has sent cheerleaders to the Crossroads Bowl football game in the past. 

Dolan said this year the cheerleaders did not go and did not find this out until the week of the game. 

“If they knew in the long run that we weren’t going, it would have been nice to give us a heads up. It’s stuff like that I feel they would normally tell other teams that we just don’t get told,” Dolan said. 

Not knowing where the team stands makes it challenging as they are bouncing back and forth between organizations and Athletics, Ewing said. Currently, the team is working toward making cheer considered a sport at the University. 

Athletics was able to find them a coach, McLain said. Cheer coach and Truman cheer alum Kaitlin Tait allows the team to stunt. There are cheer guidelines that prevent teams from stunting without a coach.

“Without a Truman representative coach, I’m not sure we’d be able to do all the things we want to do, so we’re pretty fortunate,” McLain said. 

Tait is in her second year coaching the team. Having Tait has given the team new opportunities, Ewing said. 

“Last season we were coming in without a coach because the cheer team didn’t practice at all during COVID,” Ewing said. “Then our practice schedule got messed up, so we didn’t end up having a coach until September of last year, so we kind of got a really late start on things, but this year we actually had summer practices.”

These practices were optional, but the team was usually able to have four or five cheerleaders in Kirksville for the weekend. It was a great way for the team to get to know each other and start to work together, Ewing said. 

The team also had a cheer camp over the summer. The Bulldogs worked with a competitive cheer program for a week, and they learned a new dance and stunt. McLain said this helps the team prepare for competitions. 

With COVID and having a coach who had only been with the program for a season, the team has not been able to compete. This spring, the team is hopeful they will be able to compete in a smaller competition as they are expensive and the team would have to find ways to fundraise for it themselves, McLain said.