By Elizabeth Scalzo
What most people do not know is what it takes to be a Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights cheerleader.
The FDU Knights continuously put in effort, both on and off the court, to make sure the men’s and women’s basketball teams have plenty of school spirit every time they step on the court.
For the 2019-2020 season, the FDU Knights have a squad of 13 women after tryouts in September. The squad is led by captains Maame Mensah and Rocky Sileshi.
The squad practices on average a total of 10 hours a week and they perform at the basketball games.
The team members are also involved in many other organizations
on campus. The prime example is Mensah, who is the president of the Student Government Association.
The other 12 cheerleaders are involved in a variety of other organizations, from Greek Life to Global Scholars. The team shows what it means to be involved on campus.
In the past, the cheer team has also participated in competitions, though they haven’t competed in the past few years. They are looking to return to competitions as they continue to grow.
The team has to stand by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams through wins, but also through losses.
The cheerleaders help get the crowd going, which feeds into the adrenaline of the players.
Men’s basketball head coach Greg Herenda is aware of the impact of the cheerleaders on the energy of the crowd. The FDU cheer team’s energy should never be underrated.
“We win a lot of big games here (at home),” said Herenda. “We haven’t lost a playoff game here in the last four years. We beat Princeton, Delaware, and Towson here.”
A good team can become a great team when they have a crowd to cheer them on and a squad on the sidelines that has their back no matter the score.
The cheerleaders also receive scholarships like other athletes, but they aren’t offered as much support, comparatively. The cheer team does not offer full rides, which hinders a squad trying to get back into competing.
Cheer deserves to be placed on a more equal footing when compared to the rest of the sports on FDU’s metro campus.
The women on the team set aside countless hours to practice along with their busy class schedules, other organizations and work.
The next time you sit in the bleachers, be sure to remember the women on the sideline who are sweating and giving their all to cheer on the team.
Photo by Kenneth Ramirez Castro
FDU cheerleaders include Jenna Bonomi, left, Jodiann Mitchell, Lufthansa Boothe, Nyjayah Brown and Maame Mensah.