Lasell Cheerleading: A club team to athletic team
Lasell’s cheerleading team plays an important role in sports on campus. The team is performing to score, but also performing to support other teams playing while simultaneously getting the crowd involved with the game. The cheerleading team cheers at both men's and women's home basketball games during their season, plus Lasell Day, held in March.
For the past few weeks, the team has been preparing to get ready for the Men’s Basketball home opener on November 11 against Fitchburg State. 4th year head coach Laura Persichetti says “Our team is preparing to have our best season yet! Even with the staff changes to the athletics department we still were able to finally get some new uniforms and start to grow the team.”
From an athlete’s perspective, sophomore Maggie Pepe explains there is a lot of preparation during practice to make sure their routines are perfect. “We spend a lot of the time stunting and perfecting our work as well as a lot of conditioning. We also have a really good team this year. We have a lot of more experienced girls and our practices are long, so we get a lot done,” She says.
Head captains Hallie Dubuisson and Sam Curtin say last season went well but there have also been some changes to the team. “We have made many improvements such as having tryouts this year, just overall our captains and co captains are super dedicated to making our team better,” Curtin says. As for the state of the team this year, Pepe says, “I think [the team] is only going to go up from here. The girls this year are amazing. We love to have them here.”
There is a new position on the team as well which has been added which is team manager. Sophomore Aiyana Mercedes holds the position this year. “I check all the people in and make sure that everybody's here, I make sure that they're doing what they're really supposed to be doing. I take videos of all the cheers and I post them in our group chat so that everybody makes sure that everybody knows the cheers and they practice it on their own time and I make sure that the cheers are clear,” Mercedes states. This position is important for the team, Curtin adds, “The position has allowed us to be more organized and allows us to have an extra person to help us with the little details we may not be able to get to do at practice.”
Another big change is that the cheerleading team is getting ready to fall under the athletics umbrella. “With this being my 3rd year as the head coach at Lasell the team and I are getting more comfortable and prepared to fully transition to a sport under athletics. The improvements that would help significantly would be having a space to add on another day or 2 of practice, as of right now space is limited,” Persichetti explains. This transition to athletics hasn’t come without some challenges, including miscommunication between the team and the athletic department last year.
“We weren't able to do our halftime routine that we spent months working on that we had both men's and women's basketball. They did not allow us to do our halftime routine,” Pepe says. “They told us we couldn't right before we were about to go on. So we had to do it at the end when everyone was leaving. So that was rough.”
Mercedes, who was a cheerleader on the team last year, adds, “It's hurtful when you put that much work into it. Especially, with your coach and especially working that hard. You're like, damn, I'm not going to be able to show anybody this or how hard we've been working this whole thing.”
Previously, cheerleading was a club sport that had difficulties health wise for the team. “It's difficult when you're in a club sport to get help from the athletic trainers directly. You have to be the middleman and be the bigger person to make sure to tell all your teachers.” Mercedes continues, “For example, I got a concussion last year and I also couldn't be on technology, but I also had to let all of my teachers know, ‘Hey, this is why I'm missing class’ because the athletic trainers aren't allowed to make that connection and have those accommodations set. You kind of have to do things by yourself. And it's kind of messed up when you can still get those same exact injuries in that sport.”
For team culture, everyone on the team agrees that as a whole, the team is very supportive and positive. “They're my best friends, our suitemate is our captain of the cheer team, so we're already very close. We love to just be around each other,” Pepe says. “We all are happy to support each other and happy to be a part of Lasell's community.” Curtin adds.
Even Coach Persichetti has noticed and has seen the culture improve. “Our team culture has grown by leaps and bounds since my first season coaching at Lasell, all team members are comfortable communicating with each other as well as myself and the captains,” She says.
There is an emphasis on bonding as well outside of practice, with team study halls starting this year, making the team feel whole and connected. If you are interested in joining the cheer team, it requires no prior experience, but you should take it seriously and be willing to learn. You can reach out to any of the captains or the team manager. “We're super welcoming, we always want people to join the team” Mercedes adds.