The Chapman cheerleading squad will be making the transition from a recreation sport to a club sport beginning this fall 2017.
“We had for a really a long time just been in the grey area of the Athletic Department,” said junior co-captain Fiona Zaring. “We supported the sports teams, but we were not a sport. We had an adviser but were still doing our own thing. We’ve always been sort of in between like that, but we worked really hard over the last few years to become a bigger part of the campus and the athletic department.”
Although the team will now be an official part of the athletic department, the cheer squad is still not allowed to do aerial tricks, said Senior Women’s Administrator Mary Cahill. The women will be sticking to cheers, band dances and dance performances.
Being named a club sport means the team will carry the official title of a Chapman sport and be under the responsibility of Cahill.
“We get bombarded asking to be a club sport, and a lot goes into (making the transition),” Cahill said. “Once they become a club sport, there are certain things they have to do that takes a lot of time. We tell them that they have to be a recreational sport for a full year while they’re still showing me they have interest and that they are getting everything lined up to be a club sport.”
A recreation sport practices and plays against other Chapman students on its own schedule and is completely student-run. Recreation sports don’t compete against other schools and are not an official team. However, club sports teams compete against other schools, require participants to have completed physicals and provide proof of insurance before playing.
“The team is beyond excited to have a more official standing within the Athletics Department,” said cheer head coach Emily Hepp. “However, in an effort to keep Chapman Cheer accessible and affordable for all students interested, fundraising is necessary to keep our program.”
According to Cahill, all club sports are self-sufficient with the exception of the coach’s salary, which is paid for by the university. The rest of the necessary funds for the cheerleaders – including transportation and uniforms – come from fundraising.
“As a club sport, and I think this is the biggest thing and the reason we wanted it the most, is to be taken seriously,” Zaring said. “We are a small program still and 20 girls feels like a lot to us, but compared to the football team, we are a smaller program still. It’s nice to be an established team within the Athletics Department and be looked at in more of the same light as the other programs. I think it became time that we established that we are a club sport.”
The cheerleading team just finished a round of cheer tryouts in the first week of May, resulting in a new team of 21 members with 14 returners and seven new members. The cheer captains, Zaring and junior Jordan Haley, were chosen by the team.