College Dance Team Central

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ASU Combines Dance Team, Cheerleaders

By Jason P. Skoda
The Arizona Republic

The sidelines at Arizona State athletic events are going to have a new look in the fall.

The traditional cheerleader squad and the dance team have morphed into the "spirit squad."

The move was made in conjunction with the decision to switch the cheerleading squad from the marketing department's advisement to being handled by the marching band.

"We took our two spirit groups and combined them," said Steve Hank, an associate athletic director in the marketing department. "We will roughly have the same number of (performers) on the field as we did in years past."

Hank also said one of the reasons for the change was the danger involved in the stunting and tumbling aspects of cheerleading.

The decision was made on May 10, and Hank said it had nothing to do with racy photos of former ASU cheerleaders on a Web site, as has been rumored. He also said that there is no link between the shuffling of the cheer squad and the three men's sports that were cut last week.

Most of the cheerleaders felt much like the athletes who lost their programs - that they were blindsided by the decision and left little time to make plans, one former cheerleader said.

They were told about the decision nine days before the tryout for the new spirit squad.

"We did everything for the university," said freshman Kendall Conedera. "We went to every game, every function and every single event, and to be treated like this, with no clear explanation, and absolutely no notice is ridiculous."

Conedera said about eight cheerleaders, including her, tried out for the spirit squad and three upperclassmen made it.

"I think it was extremely unfair," she said. "We were given nine days to get ready for something that has nothing to do with cheerleading."