by Liza Sisk ’19
Imagine attending a Providence College basketball game where every fan is sitting in their seat for the entirety of the game, and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is absolutely silent. This depressing scene could be reality if it was not for the unsung heroes of Providence College athletics: the Cheerleading Team. The cheerleading team works tirelessly to cultivate the ideal atmosphere in which other Friar athletes are able to thrive. The team is responsible for keeping the basketball games entertaining and exciting as well as keeping the fans engaged in the game. Not only do they interact with the fans, they also prove themselves to be incredible athletes through their routines and performances.
The cheerleading team is made up of 20 athletes, four boys and 16 girls, and is lead by two captains, Nicki Jones ’17 and Alex Jones ’17, as well as a coaching staff of three. The team is selected each year through a tryout process consisting of opportunities for the athletes to show off their stunting abilities, jumps, running tumbles, and spiriting. Each candidate is required to execute a standing backflip, and a round-off back handspring or round-off back handspring back tuck. Everyone on the team participates in the tryout each year.
The typical week on the cheer team is comprised of two practices and one game. The team is present at all home men’s and women’s basketball games. They also have the opportunity to travel with the team to New York City for the Big East Conference Tournament each year. The team currently does not compete regularly, however, last year they qualified for the National Cheer Association Nationals Competition. Unfortunately, the team was unable to raise the funds to attend, but are looking to qualify and make the trip this spring. Under a new coaching staff, the team is incredibly focused on strengthening their program. They are looking forward to participating in more competitions, qualifying for nationals, and proving themselves to be worthy contenders.
Chris Mathews ’17 is one of five athletes on the team graduating this year. Over the course of his four years as a friar cheerleader he was able to witness the team “transform from something alright, to something great.” Mathews said, “[The] new coach has a vision of the team that will carry it farther than we thought it could over the next few years.” Mathews stressed the importance of teamwork and communication in a sport like cheerleading. He explained that “everyone has each other’s back…in the stunts and outside of practice. We physically have to work together to make something happen and that really contributes to the strong team aspect of the group.” Mathews went on to explain that, in his opinion, the most rewarding part of being on the team is “when you see someone hit a stunt they’ve been working on all week and everyone goes crazy, the whole team notices.”