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MC Cheer and Dance Prepare for Upcoming Year
As the MC football season approaches its midway point, these teams are excited for every last opportunity to make some noise for their Choctaws.
As sports teams all across Mississippi College’s campus prepare for the fall and winter competition, two particular athletic programs have been getting ready for their role in those seasons. The long-established and nationally recognized MC Cheerleading is excited about the Choctaw football season.
The Mississippi College Dance Team formed just over three years ago and is eager to show out for this year’s athletic showdown in Robinson-Hale. Both teams are full of fresh faces and new leadership, never short of talent and spunk. As the MC football season approaches its midway point, the number of performances these athletes have left grows slimmer. Even so, they are excited for every last opportunity to make some noise for their Choctaws.
A committee formed over the summer, made up of organizations like Choctaw Sports and the Office of Student Engagement, helped update the Game Day experience. Some of these changes include incorporating old traditions from MC Cheer’s extensive past and some original ones created for this year, most being in the form of chants and cheers easily recognizable by alumni ears. “We have revamped our tailgating experience for fans and students. That includes everyone-whether you’re an athlete, an organization, a faculty member, a parent, or a part of the student body,” Griffin Fleming, co-captain of the cheer team, said. “With everything we do, we take into consideration how it will impact the student body and fanbase. We want game days to feel more like a production that is put on throughout the entire day and not just a game you sit still for that afternoon or evening.”
In addition to this, a new quad performance has been added alongside the Choctaw Marching Band and the MC Dance Team, who has also been improving and growing. “I have been a part of MC Dance since it began in 2020 when I started here as a freshman, said Katherine Hammons, the dance team’s captain. “Seeing it grow the way it has, watching different leadership and now being that for our girls has been a sweet experience for me.”
Both MC Cheerleading and Dance Team have many new athletes joining them for the year. The two programs have roughly 20 athletes, and managing a team that size is no small feat. “Our team is a majority of freshmen this year. My job as a captain is taking the different dance backgrounds and styles of our girls and blending them together to make all of their strengths shine through on the field or court, mainly sticking to Pom and jazz choreography,” Hammons said.
Head cheer coach, Michele Ricker, described her current team as a fusion of fresh and seasoned athletes, that are supported by a foundation of core cheerleaders who have worked together for as many as three seasons. “We aren’t starting from scratch as some seasons have been in the past. We’re simply building on what we already have established,” Ricker said. “Our returners have just welcomed our new members and made them feel right at home.”
The two programs claim athletes that are dedicated to their craft. The dance and cheer athletes are not usually given scholarships for their participation, so their hard work is straight from the heart.“Their dedication is what is so inspiring to me as their coach. Mid-season, when practices feel long, it can get hard. But they still honor the commitment that they made the summer before the school year,” Ricker said. “I give them the credit for all their successes.” Being the sounding board for Choctaw fans’ shouts of praise why they do what they do. They love the crowd, the energy, and the joy that comes from cheering for others and performing for the university they attend.
Alana Latorre, a sophomore member of the dance team, described her favorite part of playing a role on Choctaw game days. “After we do the tailgate, then we perform at halftime which is new for us this year. We’re seen by more people, and everyone is getting to know us better,” said Latorre. “After we’re performing and I hear the crowd cheering, that’s a feeling like no other.” That same undeniable feeling is what keeps these athletes excited about serving their student body and the MC family in this way, especially when the possibility of injury is a fact in any sport. “There are lots of bruises, bumps, and ‘uh-ohs’ with cheer. We have to be resilient to injury and also meticulous with how we train for what we do. Cheer is about physicality and staying positive. We go in and work hard in that weight room,” Malik James, assistant head coach of MC Cheer, said. “These cheerleaders are lifting other human beings off the ground, and they have to be strong or someone falls.”
The two programs also do much in the way of outreach and getting the greater Clinton community involved in their projects, including getting the attention of prospective members of their teams from local athletes. MC Dance Team will be showcasing a special performance during halftime on October 8 at Robinson-Hale, featuring elementary school- to high school-age dancers from the surrounding area. This also coincides with MC’s annual Preview Day.
Programs like these exist to make sporting events livelier and invigorating. The hours of coordinated practices are no small sacrifice for MC Cheerleading and the MC Dance Team.
No matter how seamless it all can appear from the outside, there is a person managing the whole production from behind the scenes, on the sidelines, or in the stands making sure it all goes smoothly and that Choctaw fans have a good time.
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