CANYON, Texas (KFDA) - Last week West Texas A&M released information on a new university spirit team for WT cheer and dance, but members of the team are not happy with what skill set it leaves out. The spirited West Texas A&M Cheer team got hit with a surprise on March 11, that their program would end March 31 and merge with the dance team, Maroon Platoon and Bucky the mascot. The new organization will no longer be housed under WT Athletics. Instead it will be under the Student Enrollment, Engagement and Success Division.
“In our eyes it’s just taking the dance team because we don’t have the skills that he’s asking for because the skills that we have are the stunting and tumbling aspects of that,” said WT sophomore Macy Hoyler.
WT Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Michael McBroom informed the teams with a letter stating, traditional cheer routines that involved tumbling and stunting will no longer be part of future performances.
“We haven’t canceled the cheer program,” said McBroom. “We are reorganizing on campus and cheering has been and will continue to be an important part to what we have done at West Texas.”
The new University Spirit team is expected to select 24 members or more, which is around the number that is already on both dance and cheer teams. That limits the number of tryout spots available for many athletes dreaming of cheering at WT. However, by moving spirit to the S.E.E.S division, the university plans on offering more scholarship money. Right now, the cheerleaders’ receive a $500 scholarship per year.
“I honestly have a cousin who is a senior at Lubbock Cooper. Me and her have been hanging out and getting ready for W-T’s tryouts,” said WT alum Meghan Brooks. “We’ve worked on the fight song. We’ve worked on stunting and tumbling. It really broke my heart that she isn’t going to get that same opportunity that I did.”
While college is the end for some cheerleaders, some go on to coach and train other young gymnasts to someday reach the collegiate level. The new team will look different, but McBroom did reassure the team that everything is not off the table.
“A lot of what we will do will be determined on what the skillset is of the members,” said McBroom. “I think tumbling is probably one that we will end up doing.”
To these cheerleaders, their job is more than pumping up a crowd and looking pretty, it’s to inspire and encourage others to succeed.
“We put our bodies through a lot of strain and a lot of stress to support other athletes, and that’s the whole point of cheerleading is to lead on others,” said WT senior Ryan Bartley.
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous experience for our fans, the members who are part of this new team and for our team,” said McBroom. “Ultimately as athletic director I want an environment that helps us win games.”
Overall, both sides want the same thing, to provide spirit and energy for West Texas A&M athletics. McBroom plans to meet with the teams at a later date to discuss in detail team plans, creating a new team name and tryouts. WT cheer created a Facebook page to help save their stunts called Help Save WTAMU Cheer and Dance.