At a high school, most students would say they know the difference between a sport and a club. A club is a group of people with a shared interest who get together, like the debate team, chess club, a foreign language club, etc. A sport, on the other hand, typically involves tryouts, in order to make the team and more physical work.
In college, it's a bit different. As explained by The Denisonian, "a major difference between varsity and club is the source for allocated funds. Varsity teams receive financial support, equipment and facilities from college and university athletic department budgets." This directly affects the Denison cheerleading team. Rather than called a sport, it is in the category of a club. However, the team members of the cheer squad say what they do should certainly be called a sport.
The Denisonian staff writer Andrew Freshcorn writes, "The purpose of the Denison cheerleading club
is to provide students with the opportunity to grow, learn, lead and experience athletic activities. They promote and uphold school spirit, develop a sense of sportsmanship among the students, as well as build better relationships between competing schools during all athletic events and develop a stronger sense of responsibility as individuals and leaders."
Adds Denison cheerleader, Kirstie Rodden, "One of the best takeaways of cheering is increasing school spirit
around Denison. I love going to Denison and supporting the different sports teams and cheering is a great way to get further involved in that."
If they love cheering even though they're called a club, what's the big deal? The deal is it limits them in many aspects.
Freshcorn explains, "The cheerleading club faces challenges, however. Their practices are limited to two days per week, making each and every minute spent in the gym valuable, as those hours become more valuable, the less frequent they are. Besides being limited in practice opportunities, the cheerleading club has also been limited in travel opportunities. Because they are not provided transportation to athletic events, cheerleaders band together and drive to the games using their own cars. As a club however, they do not make the trips to games that exceed over three hours of driving time."
Because of these reasons and more, the team is determined to make the jump from club to varsity sport. The cheerleaders believe that the sport designation would also make fellow students take cheerleading more seriously and see just how hard the team members work. If the team was named a sport, they would receive much more funding and, as a result, they could practice more often and improve their skills, as well as attend games that aren't local. If the cheerleaders are able to convince their school, Denison would become the first cheer squad in the North Coast Atlantic Conference to ever be a varsity sport
, as all the other nine colleges designate cheerleading as a club.
Despite this struggle, nothing can stop these cheerleaders from loving what they do. Kirstie Rodden explains, "cheering is a great way to get involved on campus and meet new people that you will become very close to during your tenure at Denison. If you're thinking about trying out, whether you have ever cheered or not, do it! The team is such a great group and cheering for Denison has been a truly positive experience for me, and for the rest of my team."
You can read the full story here at The Denisonian