Last march, Reporter sat down with some members of RIT’s cheerleading team to try and shed some light on what their team is all about. This year, the team is taking even greater steps to bring some attention to their well-deserving program. As their competition season kicks off, the team and all of its members have been working towards a bid to Nationals.
“This year we did a bid video ... and we basically wanted to send it in and see if we even qualify,” explained second year base tumbler and Criminal Justice and Psychology major, Gabby Derosier. “If we qualify for this year’s Nationals ... we know that we have the skill and can improve off that.”
The task of accomplishing this goal started taking root throughout last season.
“Last year was the first step in the right direction,” said co-captain and third year Advertising and Public Relations major, Grace Koester, who is a flyer and tumbler for the team.
Derosier agreed on the subject. She said, “We have a direction of where we want RIT cheerleading to go, so last season was building the fundamentals for that — figuring out what we need to work on, what we don’t need to be working on.”
The shift in direction seems to be the result of the recent hiring of a new coach Katie Post. An RIT alum, Post took over the program last year and has already made several impactful changes.
“Last year was definitely a building year for us. It was our first year with our current head coach,” said fourth year base tumbler and Imaging and Photographic Technology major Christi Suchodolski, “She’s definitely been fighting for us a lot, and that fight started last year.”
Not only has Post served as an advocate for her team, but she has also brought in many new things that the team never had access to before. The girls touched upon crucial aspects, such as new mats for tumbling and working more cohesively with athletics, all of which coach Post was responsible for.
“A lot of the changes we’ve had so we can get to nationals, that’s all coach Katie,” Derosier said, summing up her coach’s actions.
Along with all of these more recent additions, the members all agree that their coach knows how to get them to the skill level they need to be at for Nationals.
“She knows where teams need to go,” explained Suchodolski, touching on her past experiences. “She judges competitions ... so she know who’s doing what [and] what kind of things we need to work on.”
Koester added, “She pushes us to do more difficult things, things that we wouldn’t think we would be able to do.”
Putting in extra hours, trying new and more difficult stunts, and simply trying to get the team's name out there more are just a few of the things Post has had her team work on in order to achieve the goal of qualifying for Nationals.
“We’ve known since the beginning of the year that this is something we are going to be doing — that we’re going to be submitting a video, so we’ve been working on different stunts and difficulty,” explained Koester.
Suchodolski described some of the extra steps the team has taken this year. She said, “We’ve spent a lot more hours each week working out, practicing, [and] we’ve gone off campus to work with special tumbling coaches.”
“We have competition-based practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays; on Mondays and Wednesdays we have more strength training and conditioning practices,” Koester explained even further.
The team feels their effort will go a long way. Suchodolski expressed that “we’ve just put in so much more time this year to really get ready for what we need to do.”
While the mindset of making it to Nationals was set by last year's team, the squad's new additions this season have proved they to want it just as much.
“We set the bar higher,” explained Koester, when asked about the new recruits. “We make sure that if they’re joining this team that they’re going to have an actual position where they are going to be useful during every single part of our competition.”
The newcomers seem to be meeting — and even exceeding — the bar that was set for them during tryouts. When the returning members were asked about the potential they see in their new teammates, the reception was nothing but positive.
“I don’t think we could have asked for a better incoming group of girls,” said Suchodoski. “They all just really want to be here and really want to work.”
"I think everyone the team so far has the right goal in mind."
Deroiser also sees a lot of potential. "I think everyone on the team so far has the right goal in mind," she explained.
The mixture of the new recruits and the returning members is proving to be beneficial for the team all around.
“This season the chemistry is extremely strong, and I think chemistry is only going to build as we move on,” described Derosier.
"There's not one person on my team I don't trust."
Suchodoski has similar faith in her fellow cheerleaders. She admitted, “There’s not one person on my team I don’t trust.”
And all of this hard work has payed off for the cohesive team. While it is still up in the air if the team will be making the trip to Nationals, simply qualifying would do wonders for the program in general.
“It will definitely bring the name of the program up,” described Suchodoski. “It’ll help in being able to show that we are a team that is good and people should worry about us at competitions.”
According to Koester, National recognition will also help bring more intensity to the program. “It'll show people that we do more — that we are our own sport, we go to competitions, we don’t just cheer for someone else, we do this for ourselves,” she said.
“The way the program’s going, I can see [it] doing really big things,” stated Suchodoski.
With the combination of hard work, spirit, an experienced coach, and talented team members, RIT’s cheerleaders certainly have a promising road ahead of them.
To see the team in action, come to the men's basketball games, where at some games the they will perform their competition routine at halftime. On February 26, the team will be competing in a competition in a competition in Sanborn, NY near Niagara Falls.