Sparking spirit in the community


Bailey Monteith

David Valdovinos and Brittany Brattin of the cheer club face the crowd at the football game against UC Davis on Nov. 10. Brattin has been a member of the club for three years.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

Fans cheering on the Eagles at Roos Field or Reese Court are familiar with the cheerleaders’ role in leading the support, but may not know the amount of work that goes into being part of the cheer club.

“We’re the first people here,” cheer coach Hailey Tangen, who is in her 10th year coaching, said. “Football game days are long for us, because we have tailgating, pep rallies […] sometimes other various events, if we have corporate sponsors or donors that we need to go meet and greet.”

This year’s cheer club consists of 14 men and 10 women. The squad is chosen after a three-day tryout process that takes place yearly in either late April or early May. Tangen said she looks for athleticism and personality fit when making her final decisions.

“We’re looking for an all-around athlete,” Tangen said. “Most of my kids have been on some sort of athletic team, whether it’s gymnastics, football or basketball. Most of my guys don’t come from a cheerleading background. We kind of teach them ground-up, step-by-step.”

Tangen added that the presence of the cheer club on campus is an important factor in forming the team.

“It’s such a close, tight-knit group of people,” Tangen said. “They’re such a visible group on campus. Taking into [account] academics, on-and-off the court personalities, and kind of finding that role model that can be known on campus in a positive light.”

Senior Hailey Britain has been a part of the cheer club for three years. She said that as a senior, her role as a leader on the team is important.

“I have to be an active leader,” Britain said. “Whether that’s in the studio, on the field for games and the work for games, really stepping up and taking one for the team […] I call the cheers on game day, so that’s my specific task that I deliver.”

David Valdovinos vaults Brittany Brattin into the air. The cheer club performs at every football, basketball and volleyball game.

Austin Schuetzle is in his fourth year cheering at EWU, and said that leadership and communication is a vital part of his role on the team as a senior, especially during games.

“I would say I’m a captain,” Schuetzle said. “Pretty much everybody asks me if something’s going or not. […] Calling team stunts, getting organization together. Making sure everybody’s doing the right job [and] critiquing people.”

Joining the cheer club is almost a year-round commitment. The squad begins preparation for football season in July and runs until tryouts for the following school year in April or May.

“Football starts Labor Day Weekend, but we have to be ready to go,” Tangen said. “We start in July, and all spring we’re working on that stuff. They take about three to four weeks off in June, and then we start hard July 1.”

While the cheer club is most known for their presence in cheering on EWU athletics, they are also heavily involved in the community. The club makes various appearances at different events in the Cheney and Spokane area, with the list almost too long for Tangen to count.

“We do tons of stuff with the local Cheney community,” Tangen said. “We do lots of kids camps [and] elementary school appearances. We do senior living appearances. There’s just a [long] list.”

Britain echoed the emphasis the club has on being involved locally, bringing up the recent events they showed up to on Halloween.

“We are at so many community events,” Britain said. “Just for Halloween, we were at this little trick or treat on campus. We spend a lot of time in the summer at golf tournaments for EWU Athletics. We spend a lot of our time not just in the studio, but outside as well.”

The club puts on two cheer camps for children during the school year, which is an important part of their community involvement.

“We do one during football season and one during basketball season,” Tangen said. “It’s for kids K-6 and it’s a huge hit. It’s really fun and the [kids] come in, they learn routines, cheers, stunts, and then they get to perform at a game. We’ve been doing it for like 10 years.”

The cheer club is currently focused on preparation for the football playoffs starting Dec. 1. Members can be seen at all EWU home games in football, basketball and volleyball.