By DJ Greenzweig
Recruitment and Retention Manager
With KU athletics gradually implementing a return to play plan that allows sports to begin workouts and practices, the KU cheerleading team is just one of many that got the go-ahead to officially start their season in person.
On Nov. 5, the cheerleading team held their first practice of the season outside of Risley Hall. The team’s practice schedule currently consists of two workout days a week, with members separated into pods.
There is also one full-team practice weekly, with team athletes showing up at different times according to their assigned pod and staying within that smaller group during the duration of practice.
Athletes must wear masks and continue to social distance. The team uses pods to separate athletes into smaller groups, allowing for safer practices.
Upon arrival each athlete’s temperature is taken, a COVID-19 questionnaire is administered by the coach, and hand sanitizer is given.
Sophomore and captain Cassidy Reed was glad to be back with the team, even with these restrictions.
“I was definitely excited to start practicing again. Even though we couldn’t do everything we do at a normal practice, it was nice to gather as a team for the first time this semester and work on material for the upcoming season,” Reed said.
Led by head coach Crystal Swift, the season’s first practice began with a normal warm-up, with a chance for teammates to highlight some of their standing tumbling. Then the cheerleaders reviewed material they had learned from returning members through Zoom over the summer, such as chants and traditional band dances.
This was also the first opportunity to meet coach Swift for some of the first-year athletes, such as Julie Shaefer.
Julie Shaefer, KU junior and first-year KUCT member, reflected on her first encounter with the program, said, “I was glad to finally meet the coach and most of my teammates in person. Throughout COVID-19, I missed opportunities, like clinics and tryouts, to really interact with these members of the program.”
Although the team is unsure of what the future holds, they are excited to be one of the athletic programs on campus able to begin the reintroduction process. In the coming weeks they will be allowed to ease into more of their sport, with precautions set in place.
Until then, KU cheerleaders are continuing to make small group appearances around campus to spread school pride. Follow the team through @kutztowncheer on social media to stay up to date with current happenings.