by Lori Cruz
If the crowd is considered the 12th man on a football field, cheerleaders must be the 13th, and this year the Leos Cheer Squad has added seven new members and a new adviser to its lineup.
Dr. Deborah Burris-Kitchen, assistant professor of sociology, was asked by squad co-captain, junior Isha Torres, to take the job as cheer adviser.
Fresh from Western Michigan University, where she taught for four years while working on her doctorate, Dr. Burris-Kitchen has many plans for the squad members.
“I would like to get some male stunt leaders out there,” said Dr. Burris-Kitchen. She added that as a former gymnast, she would also like to encourage more gymnastics in the routines.
“She’s great. She is so enthusiastic and very dedicated to the squad,” said Torres of Dr. Burris-Kitchen.
“She was in the [Homecoming] parade, she goes to our pizza parties and she was there at tryouts,” added Torres.
Head captain, junior Amber Rodriguez said, “When we’ve needed her, she’s been there.”
Along with trying to recruit men for the squad, Dr. Burris-Kitchen wants to bring in a cheer coach or an adviser to help the pep squad get more ideas for its cheer and dance routines.
“I am hoping for more dance and gymnastics in the future,” she said.
“In basketball, there are a lot of timeouts, so there is more time to spark the crowd with dance,” said Torres.
For new member Nadia Lopez, a freshman, that is good news.
“I’m especially interested in dance, but I like cheer too,” she said.
Dr. Burris-Kitchen also wants to continue having the cheerleaders and the sports teams interact.
“I’d like to get the new squad together to meet the [men’s basketball] coach and the team,” she said of her future plans.
“The football and basketball teams really support us,” said Rodriguez.
Along with having the squad go to the football and basketball games, Dr. Burris-Kitchen said, they would be willing to travel to important volleyball games or any game at the request of a coach.
Aside from Lopez, the new members, who will begin their duties with the upcoming basketball season are junior Makayla Benjamin and freshmen Lynsey Best, Season Degner, Nancy Ikari, Diane Ramos and Arrica Valdez.
Returning member and co-captain, junior Karla Molina said, “The girls that tried out are more spirited, punctual and more willing to help out.”
“They all seem very dedicated. That’s what we were hoping for,” said Dr. Burris-Kitchen of the new squad.
The five returning members are Torres, Molina, Rodriguez, sophomore Erika Swineforth and senior DiShawn Givens. They will finish out the last football game and start working with the new members.
Two other members, juniors Jennifer Rubino and Tieu-My Nguyen, are currently studying abroad and will return in the spring.