Cheer Squad Wins Nationals, Looks to a Bright Future

Vida Djaghouri

Glendale College Spirit, the cheerleading team on campus, set a precedent by achieving second place at the United Spirit Association Collegiate Nationals in Las Vegas, Nev., in February.

After a football stadium was erected on campus two years ago, many people in the athletic department found it a prime time to start a cheerleading team. Glendale College Spirit, now also in its second year on campus, was founded by Coach Jessie Moorhead in September 2005. Moorhead, who has an abundance of experience in dance and cheerleading, was attending a dance class on campus when her reputation sparked some interest.

“I was interviewing at a number of different schools [at the time], including Northridge and Whittier,” said Moorhead. “But it turned out [the athletic department was] starting to look for a cheer coach at GCC. Someone looked up my background and I got an interview. I immediately turned down the other positions.”

According to Moorhead, the team’s first year was mostly spent establishing a functional cheerleading team and determining the obligations the team would have toward the campus. “The first year, I wanted some positive outgoing students that were school-oriented,” she said. “But this past year, they definitely had to have competitive backgrounds as well.”

The cheerleaders go through extensive training, based on goals set at the beginning of the year. Moorhead said that the cheerleaders are each given particular goals to work on during the year. Those who achieve their goals are the ones able to compete. In order to achieve their goals, the cheerleaders have particular workout, dietary, gymnastics, and stunt schedules.

In addition, they also work on basic school cheers and competition routines.

Cheerleader Aaron Weller called the cheerleading program “amazing.. I never actually did cheer or gymnastics until I started the program at Glendale,” he said. “I started with no skills and everything I learned, I learned from [Moorhead]. She really is amazing.”

“My theory is this: Cheer-leading is incredibly physically challenging,” said Moorhead. “People don’t realize it until they try it for a second. But the moment they try it, it’s addictive and they’re stuck and there is nothing they can do about it.”

The six men and 12 women of Glendale College Spirit have worked hard to become the award-winning team they are today.
“We’ve been here for two years, but this is the first year we’ve been a hardcore squad and we got to go out and compete,” said Monica Kaufman, one of the cheerleaders.

There are three national competitions for college-level cheerleading in which cheerleading teams from all over the nation may compete. Glendale College Spirit qualified for two of them this year, one of which was in Florida while the other was in Las Vegas. Because of fund-raising problems, the team decided not to attend the competition in Florida.

At the United Spirit Association Collegiate Nationals in Las Vegas, a team of 13 members of Glendale College Spirit, consisting of four men and nine women, competed in the small co-ed two-year division. For their first competition the goal was to simply make it to finals. After competing against seven other schools, Glendale College Spirit not only made it to the finals, but also placed second in the entire nation.

The team’s success is not only apparent in competition, but also on the sidelines as well. According to Weller, one of the cheerleading team members who competed at nationals, “the crowd loves us. Parents of football players always say how much they appreciate us and how much they enjoy having a real cheerleading team instead of not having anybody.”

This is just the beginning for Moorhead and Glendale College Spirit. Moorhead has several new ideas for this coming year. She said, while all the cheerleaders will be cheering at games, she will create a spirit group and a competition group. The spirit group will be focusing on cheering at games while the competition group will be directed toward competition routines.

The team is also currently developing a “Spirit of Glendale” calendar that will be sold at games and will feature pictures of athletes for each month. The calendar will also include all school activities and game days in order to keep students and the community informed.

In addition to the changes she will be making to Glendale College Spirit, Moorhead will also be establishing a competitive dance team this year.

“It is going to be just like two years ago when I started the cheer program. and if it works out, hopefully I’ll get a great group of kids and we can compete,” said Moorhead.

Moorhead is honored to be serving the college. She said, “the community is absolutely amazing. I love it. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”