App State cheerleading staying virtually involved with gameday

Members+of+App+State%27s+cheerleading+team+cheer+on+the+Mountaineers+virtually+from+the+video+board+inside+Kidd+Brewer+Stadium+in+the+win+over+Campbell+Sept.+26.

Andy McLean

Members of App State’s cheerleading team cheer on the Mountaineers virtually from the video board inside Kidd Brewer Stadium in the win over Campbell Sept. 26.

Joey Magnani

App State cheer is raising Mountaineer spirits on gameday in creative ways despite having to spend them outside of Kidd Brewer Stadium. Throughout September, select cheerleaders have participated during game day by appearing live on the video board remotely during one quarter of each game.

Head coach Morgan Roberson said she first got the idea to have the team cheer virtually when she saw the NBA’s virtual fans. Since there are 38 team members, she selects a few cheerleaders each game to participate on the video board. She encourages them to get outside if the weather permits, so they can get more of a game day feel as opposed to cheering inside.

They center their performance on vocal cheers and rallies because stunting and tumbling is not suitable virtually, and their focus is to encourage the players since no fans are in attendance.

“It is nice to be a part of the game in whatever way we can,” said senior cheerleader Ashley Giordano.

Preparing for games also looks a lot different because they are only allowed to practice in small groups. They separate by position, in groups of up to 10, while socially distanced with no stunting. Each cheerleader wears a mask and they have separate mats, when they would normally tape them together and all practice on one. They also break their practices into sections to limit exposure. Much of their training is centered around running and tumbling since they are unable to stunt.

They hope to be able to do socially-distanced events on campus to involve more students, but are grateful for their opportunity to participate virtually.

“This has been the year of gratitude, so anything that we can be a part of, we are happy to do,” said Roberson.

Cheering via Zoom has also relieved a lot of the game day stressors that the cheerleaders would normally experience. They no longer have to get to the stadium four hours early or worry about timing a performance during breaks in the game. Instead, they get to cheer from home and actually get to watch most of the game, which they are normally unable to do. They first debuted this technique against Charlotte on September 12, and again against Campbell on September 26.

Sophomore cheerleader Mackenzie Burkhart described game days as much more laid-back when they cheer remotely rather than in person.

However, despite the relaxed environment, Roberson and Giordano said they prefer the feeling of normal game days, and they miss the stress-filled moments because they turn out to be some of the best memories.

“There are so many aspects of game day that fill your heart. That is just part of our culture here at App State,” said Roberson.