Friendship and family above everything for SFU cheerleading

An interview with head coach Kevin Morse about what makes the team so special

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The red cheerleading team performs at SFU Football games as well as competes across North America. (Photo courtesy of SFU Cheerleading)

By: Michelle Gomez

If you have ever attended an SFU football game, then you have probably seen the lively cheerleaders hyping up the crowd. We set up a phone interview with head coach of the SFU recreation cheerleading team, Kevin Morse, who talked to us about the team.

SFU cheerleading is divided into two teams: the competitive red team and the developmental white team. There are about eight coaches in total, all experienced in gymnastics and/or cheerleading; Morse himself has done cheer since high school, and he has been involved in multiple cheer teams since then, including the SFU team.

The white team focuses on skill development, which leads up to a year-end performance for family and friends. Morse explained that other than good fitness, it is not necessary to have any cheer experience to join the white team.

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is athleticism,” said Morse. “For new athletes coming on the team, if they’re in relatively good shape, we can teach them most of the skills that they need.”

The red team mostly accepts students who have a background in either gymnastics or cheer. In addition to cheering on SFU at football games, the red team competes in cheer competitions across Canada and the US, such as the Canadian Cheerleading Nationals in Toronto and multiple American competitions in Florida and Washington.

In contrast to all-star cheerleading, which strictly focuses on the gymnastics aspect of the sport (such as tricks, flips, and pyramids), SFU cheerleading follows a collegiate cheer style. Morse explained that this entails both gymnastics tricks and the cheering aspect, with pom poms, signs, and megaphones. Cheer competitions judge these teams on technical skills as well as crowd-leading – how well the team leads the crowd through a cheer. According to Morse, it is similar to the popular film Bring It On, but with more cheering and less dancing.

One unique thing about cheerleading is the intrinsically co-ed nature of the sport, since most varsity sports separate athletes by gender. Morse noted that intramural teams that are co-ed have to meet a certain quota of men and women on each team to make the sport balanced and inclusive. In cheerleading, however, having a balance of both men and women is absolutely necessary for the sport.

“You need both men and women to be working together to do routines,” said Morse. “Both men and women are equal and valuable members of the team, so it’s a really good environment to build friendships and work on learning skills.”

Morse said that his favourite part about coaching cheerleading at SFU is “seeing athletic development and seeing the friendships that the team has, and getting to travel together and go to competitions.” However, he explained that winning at competitions is not the team’s main drive.

“There’s lots of personal development and really talented athletes there working hard and gaining new skills [ … ] we’ll see how we do competing this year, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that everyone is staying healthy and getting new skills [ … ] It’s nice to have a family of like-minded individuals to encourage each other.”

For those wanting to join, tryouts are always held at least twice a year, once in September and once in May. Spring tryouts are still a maybe for 2019; however, Morse noted that even if they don’t do tryouts in the spring, interested students with gymnastics or cheerleading experience can contact them individually about joining.

For more information on the cheerleading team you can visit their website.

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