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UWL cheer team disbands following hardships

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UWL cheer team disbands following hardships

https://www.facebook.com/uwlcheerandstunt/

https://www.facebook.com/uwlcheerandstunt/

https://www.facebook.com/uwlcheerandstunt/

Chantal Zimmermann, Staff Reporter

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Over the years, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s cheer team faced several hardships that lead to their disbandment in the winter of 2017. They were informed that they could no longer continue their season in the midst of training for nationals.

This decision was one that was pending, since before 2015, according to ACCESS Center Director Andrew Oliver. Oliver was a part of the UWL faculty that attempted to save the cheerleading team.

Oliver was appointed the interim coach for a brief three months when the cheer team needed him. His background of expertise helped secure the team’s ability to continue for that brief amount of time.

“I was a varsity cheerleader in college. I did coaching and consulting at the elementary through high school level for twelve-plus years. I also worked with a couple of nationally-ranked squads,” mentioned Oliver. His experience assured those higher up at UWL that the cheer team was being advised by someone with the capabilities of keeping the students safe.

In the past, the UWL cheer team was considered an athletic team, leading to it being funded by the university. However, according to Oliver, the athletics department in 2015 decided that they could no longer fund the cheerleading team.

“The athletics department had to make some budget cuts. They determined they would no longer fund the cheerleading team. There were some individuals on the team that previous year that wanted to maintain the cheer team here on campus. They decided to create a student group to continue to have a cheerleading organization on campus,” Oliver said.

Once they became an organization instead of an athletic team, they fell into Jaralee Richter’s supervision. Richter is the Assistant Director of the University Centers and oversees the different organizations at UWL.

Richter commented, “After athletics no longer funded them, and said they can no longer support the team financially anymore by paying for a coach, that put them in a pretty challenging situation. They could organize as a student organization, like they did, but that doesn’t come along with any money.

“They found a person in the community. She had worked with the team a year before and had a daughter who had been on the cheer team. She became the coach, volunteer wise. That person was asked to step away from that role.”

The university asked the volunteer coach to step down because they did not have information on the coach’s capabilities, Richter included.

Richter explained the reason on why the coach was dismissed, “There were some injuries that happened under that person’s coaching advisement, and we felt that it was best to try a different method of coaching. That is where Andy came in. He helped out in the interim with his coaching experience.”

The team chose to elect two students from the squad to become the new coaches of the UWL cheer team. “Those two students became the coaches, which were paid by the team. The reason the university thought that this could work is that Andy was going to be the advisor,”  Richter stated.

After this brief time of student coaching, the university could not be liable for any injuries and needed to have a more experienced coach to help run the team, mentioned Oliver and Richter.

They discussed possible ways for the cheer team to continue to be offered at UWL. However, it would have taken a lot of hard work on the student’s behalf to make it work, added Oliver.

Shaelyn Ramirez, a former cheerleader, shared her reaction, “My thought at the moment was why? This is kind of coming out of nowhere. I was pretty upset and emotional. I cried at the fact that a sport I have been doing for five years now is no longer an option.”

Ramirez talked about the process they had to go through to write an appeal, “We had to meet with the head board with the appeal and then it would be taken higher to the chancellor so we could fight it. As a part of the cheer board, I met with the vice president and president to try and get an appeal together.

“We wrote it a week before the appeal was due. However, when we went to go turn in the appeal, she told us that it was too late because Andy didn’t sign off on something ahead of time. We were unable to do the appeal anymore.”

Oliver added, “They would have had to hire somebody who was an experienced coach. That could come in, lead and guide them in such a way that it maintained the safety of our students.” He added that they would have had to complete fundraising opportunities to gain the funds to support a coach.

Richter added, “I think the value that the two of us have, is the interest of keeping the cheer team going. We want to empower and be a part of helping that succeed. Ultimately, the decision to let that team go away was because of safety.”

As the new school year begins, Ramirez shared, “Since then I haven’t heard much. I have reached out to Andy to touch base and all we are really getting is we have to find new coaching and someone to fund us.”

Ramirez concluded, “It is a long road ahead, but hopefully it comes back.”

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UWL cheer team disbands following hardships