The fervent chanting heard on campus this fall is not another protest, but the new Spirit Squad revving up the fans of Mills athletes.
The squad members said they are determined to bring people from the Mills community to the games and get them excited about campus sports.
The squad is a group of students who attend home games, lead crowd cheers and are positive and supportive “models of good sportsmanship,” said club advisor Catie Anderson, Assistant Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.
Anderson said that their ultimate goal is to raise awareness of athletics on campus. “We do have student athletes practicing every day, working really hard, competing and representing our school at other schools and around the country even,” Anderson said. “We want a lot of fans to come.”
At club meetings the squad reviews the roster of home games, makes posters, thinks of slogans and goes over cheers for the crowd, said Spirit Squad President Amanda Page. They even designed and ordered squad t-shirts and “rooter poms” for Cyclone fans. Page and her peers-in-pep call them “Stormchasers.”
To get the crowd to participate more, Page said the squad plans to throw out prizes to fans like t-shirts and lead them in showing support for Mills athletes.
“The point is to get the crowd cheering,” Page said.
By November, Page said the squad plans to involve students at the Julia Morgan School.
The squad itself formed from a discussion the Athletic department had over the summer with Summer Academic Workshop students about their interests in sports. Many of them said they had done cheerleading in high school.
According to Anderson, Page had also cheered in high school and expressed interest in raising school spirit.
“It’s not a cheerleading group,” Anderson said. “It’s all about being positive, not stunts.”
The squad at Mills won’t be performing routines and doing any flips.
Page said the difference between the spirit squad and what she did in high school is the crowd interaction. “In high school there’s no crowd cheers, no feedback from the crowd.”
Instead, this squad will be engaging the fans to encourage the athletes and give them confidence.
The first meeting of Cyclone supporters yielded only Page and sophomore Kristin Snyder, but group advisor Catie Anderson estimated eight to ten students responded to the call to cheer initially emailed to student news.
From sent e-mails, signs on campus and through word of mouth, Page said, “More people have [already] been coming to games.”
The squad is still coming up with cheers and is open to suggestions, Snyder said as Mills soccer played Menlo College on Saturday.
“We pay attention to cheers that arise from the crowd, when they do anything cool that gets the crowd riled up,” Snyder said, “we remember and use them.”
Page and Snyder passed out inflated yellow hands pointing to “#1”, cones to amplify cheers, blue pom-poms and yellow wigs made of plastic crepe. Page even offered face paint for the diehard Stormchaser.
The spirit squad kept the cheers positive as Menlo shot another goal past the Cyclones’ defense.
“That’s okay! That’s alright! Go on Mills, fight, fight, fight!”