The Rice Thresher, Vol. 91, No. 20, Ed. 1 Friday, February 20, 2004 Page: 15 of 20
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THE RICE THRESHER SPORTS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2004
BRING IT ON
Story and layout by
Both basketball teams are having great seasons, but the
Basketball Owl Band, the cheerleaders and the dance
team have supported the teams through good times and
bad. This is the second of a three-part series on the
supporting cast at basketball games.
Whether they are continuing their
high school involvement or simply
love performing in front of a crowd,
the Rice cheerleaders and mascot
are some of the most-dedicated and
biggest sports fans on campus.
"I love being involved with the
game and being so close to the ac-
tion," Ix)vett College senior Rica
Gardner said. "Especially during bas-
ketball season, we are right under
the backboard and feel as if we are a
part of the action."
Most of the females on the squad
started cheering as early as junior
high school, and continuing in col-
lege was the next logical step.
"I got started sophomore year at
Rice with a couple of friends from
Ix>vett who were already involved
with it," Lovett junior Kate
Hurtekant said. "I cheered in junior
high, and since [the Rice
cheerleading squad] was looking
for people, I did it. At most schools,
it is so competitive to get in, but at
Rice, I could actually do it, and it
has been a lot
males on the ip
cheered in high
school, while the others became
involved by simply showing up to
"I got dragged to practice one
time the second semester of my
sophomore year," Lovett senior and
captain Andrew Schaefer said. "I had
no idea what it was like, but my ex-
girlfriend was a cheerleader, so I got
pulled into practice and was thrown
into a pyramid for the next week's
[football game], and I eventually
became part of the team."
Baker College freshman Russell
Schafer, the only male member of
the current squad who cheered in
high school, believes the stereo-
types associated with male
cheerleading are a big reason more
males are not involved.
"In high school I was a
weightlifter, and I had a friend who
was a weightlifter as well as a cheer-
leader," Schafer said. "I went to an
all-male high school, and joining
cheerleading was not something that
I really wanted to do because of the
things associated with it.
"Then my friend asked me, 'Do
you like weightlifting? Do you like
girls? Tlien cheerleading is a natural
combination of the two things.' I
then thought of it as a challenge."
One challenge for the
cheerleading squad is coor-
dinating with the
Lovett College junior Lanny Bose
has a very different story from the
cheerleaders about how he became
a part of the in-game entertainment.
"The whole reason I started was
because I thought it would be a funny
joke, and as it turns out, I was the only
one who signed up for the [student-
elected] position," Bose said.
"Somebody's got to do it, and I don't
know why it's not more sought-after.
At other schoolslikeTexasA&M it's
a big deal to be yell leader and a spirit-
involved person. For me, I guess it's
really wanting to be the center of
attention because people pay a lot of
attention to a six-foot tall owl."
Bose, who was re-elected to the
^ week, has had
to meet other
past year while
with 'Clutch,' the
and have gotten ideas
as how to be more enter-
taining," Bose said.
For Bose, the hardest part is deal-
ing with the children who think it is
fun to pick on a man in an
"Sometimes kids cry and run
away, but there are the fourth-grad-
ers who like to punch Sammy in the
mouth and pull the tail off," Bose
said. "But it is a lot of fun, because
how often is it socially acceptable to
joke around with people like that
and dance with [Rice University
Police Department officers]?"
Socially acceptable or not, the
cheerleaders said their time commit-
ment is similar to that of a varsity
athlete. The cheerleading squad prac-
tices after class, travels with the
football team during the fall semes-
ter, and even has its own scholarship
available to returning members of
"During football season, we prac-
tice three times per week and twice a
week during basketball season since
there are so many games," Gardner
said. "We have one scholarship —
the Tom Crumpton (Sid Rich '86)
"He was killed in
Brown sophomore Cathy Southwlck (top) completes a basket toss at a
recent cheerleading practice as the male spotters await the catch below.
a car accident right after graduation,
and cheerleading was very important
to him, so his friends and family
started a scholarship."
With both the men's and women's
basketball teams fighting for first
place in the Western Athletic
Conference, the cheerleaders said
cheering from their spot at the north
baseline of Autry Court with a
crowded house has been more
exciting this season.
"Seeing the current student
support at basketball games is
amazing," Hurtekant said. "It's more
fun cheering with a mass of students
jumping around and showing their
school spirit. It's been really
rewarding this season because the
players notice us more."
Will Rice sophomore Diego
Tucker is grateful for the thanks the
players give to the squad for its
cheering efforts during the game.
"Based on what the athletes say,
they really appreciate us being
there," Tucker said. "When we get
the crowd into it, it is much more
enjoyable, and we feel as if we have
When the team goes on a losing
streak, however, the cheerleaders
still show up every game and cheer
despite lower fan turnout.
"It's not hard for me to get into
it because I don't mind making a
fool of myself," Gardner said.
"I really get into the games
anyways, but it is discouraging
when only five kids show up for
women's games. Sometimes when
the people are just sitting there,
it's like pulling teeth. What really
means a lot is when the students
are out, and we get more into it,
and they get more into it too."
While sometimes the
cheerleading squad invents new
cheers for a game against a particu-
lar team, most of the cheers are old
standards handed down from
"A lot of stuff is passed down
from year to year," Lovett junior
Melissa Hindman said. "Every year
we have a Universal Cheerleaders
Association cheering instructor
teach us new stuff and build off of
previous years. We also do routines
to 'Bonnet,' 'I.ouie, Louie' and the
Gardner said the squad also learns
new cheers and stunts from other
college squads duringa cheerleading
camp it attends each August.
"We have camps at end of
summer sponsored by the UCA with
[University of Houston, Texas
Christian University] and even the
Texans cheerleaders," Gardner said.
"The camps give us a chance to talk
to other squads and share ideas.
This year, we picked up one new
stunt from TCU."
Even the big screen has sparked
inspiration for new stunts.
"We are a student-led organiza-
tion with no coach, so we get a lot of
stuff from watching other schools,"
Hurtekant said. "We also look at
Web sites, and we even did a pyra-
mid from Bring It On Again. It re-
ally is a collaborative effort."
While cheering comprises
the majority of their routine,
stunting — performing gymnastic
tricks and forming pyramids with
the whole team — is often the cheer-
leaders' favorite part.
"I like the basket tosses, where
the girl gets thrown high in air,
because those are the most fun to
watch," Hurtekant said.
Another favorite is the "Spell Out"
The cheerleaders hold up Sammy the Owl for a keg stand during the cheer
"Spell Out" at a men's basketball game against San Jose State Jan. 31.
the male cheerleaders perform
between the third and fourth
quarters of football games and
during the first media time-out of
the second half in basketball games.
"It started as a Southwest Con-
ference tradition and has been
passed down year to year,"
Schaefer said. "We come up with
new things to add to it every once
and a while — like two years ago
when we did a dunk."
Even with all the fun of the on-
the-court action, the best part for
many cheerleaders is simply getting
a chance to hang out with friends
they have made on the squad.
"We have a really great squad
this year because we haven't had a
squad in the past 10 years that hasn't
had someone quit during the
season," Gardner said. "I get a rush
out of stunting and traveling, but
meeting new people is the best part."
Bose got his reward last summer
while leading cheers in Omaha at
the College World Series. He
remembers also the excitement but
said being immortalized in an oil
painting by Opie Otterstad is also
something he will never forget.
"The coolest thing was running
across the baseball diamond into
the 'Ultimate Dogpile,' Bose said.
"Very few people got to jump on that
dogpile, and that is a moment that
Rice will remember forever. A
moment like that is why you do it."
Lovett senior Rica Gardner stands atop Brown sophomore Cathy Southwlck (left)
and Lovett Junior Kate Hurtekant in a pyramid at Halloween Hoops last October.
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Berenson, Mark. The Rice Thresher, Vol. 91, No. 20, Ed. 1 Friday, February 20, 2004, newspaper, February 20, 2004; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth398442/m1/15/: accessed July 31, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.