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COVID, Cheer, and Creativity

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

By Mariyah Harvey

The cheer team E-board at this year’s PSGA Club Fair (photo by Leah Diel)

After an 18-month hiatus, Purchase’s cheerleading club is back in action! The team’s E-board is excited to finally get the chance to practice their favorite activity once again.

The team began in 2015 with students who had a variety of talents and skills. As the years progressed, the team placed in the top three at every competition, performed many entertaining half-time routines, and worked extremely hard during all team practices.

Antonio Perrella, a senior communications major and the club’s president, said that being back at practice has not hit him yet. His first year of cheer was spent in Zoom meetings and away from his team, so getting the chance to be on-campus is something he looks forward to.

“The last time I was here, it was the middle of my sophomore year,” he said. “I am here and we’re back in the gym! It’s a good feeling but it’s somewhat scary. I’m like ‘Oh my God, the last time I was here I was a regular cheerleader, but now I’m the president.’”

Shelby Kline, a senior theatre major and the club’s treasurer, said, “It feels super good to be back! Definitely nerve-wracking, because it’s been so long, but since it’s my senior year I'm glad we are able to do a season again before I graduate.”

A’jonea Ridgeway, a junior communications major and the club’s vice president, said, “It feels amazing and I am so happy! I was literally deprived over the pandemic so I am super excited!”

But now it’s game time and they already have most of their schedule jam-packed and down to a T. While they may miss the old team, they have also said that it is nice to see new faces.

Kline said that with the new faces there is a fresh new slate, which opens the conversation up to team bonding.

“We’re building this team to be more inclusive and fun, but also trying to make it a growing experience for all the new members as well as ourselves,” Kline said. “We want to feel more like a team and be connected to each other because we're starting so fresh!”

But with COVID-19 guidelines on campus, there is a new understanding that some things have changed. Masks are always mandated, especially when doing stunts because it requires the cheerleaders to be so close. There also must be constant sanitizing both on and off the mat and very high maintenance on good hygiene. Because of the restrictions, Perrella worries about stunting.

“If we can’t do stunts, then we will be doing some type of socially distanced halftime performance,” he said. “But it really is up in the air and we have to wait to see what we can really do as a team.”

There is also a decrease in E-board members this semester due to other members graduating, so there are only three returnees.

However, Ridgeway declared that with the small E-board, there is a new burst of creativity on the team.

“I think our creativity aspect has drastically shot up which I am very excited about because that means we can do more interesting routines and stunts,” she said.

As the team is ramping up for this upcoming season, they believe that anyone, regardless of experience, should be able to join cheer.

“You don’t need to have experience [to join],” said Perrella. “You don’t need to be a perfect cheerleader. You just come to learn. No one is expecting you to be amazing. You literally just come and do what you can and at the end of the day, I like to think it’s a fun experience.”

The cheerleading team is planning on doing several fundraisers throughout the year. For updates and more information, visit the team’s Instagram purchasecollegecheer.



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