Point Park Globe

Cheer and Dance becomes official sport

Written By Michael Richter

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Photos courtesy of Sam Robinson, Point Park Athletics
Point Park Cheerleaders perform a halftime show during a women's basketball game at CCAC South campus on Nov. 6.

The Point Park athletics department announced it will add competitive cheer and dance as an official varsity sport for the 2016-2017 season, on Jan. 7. 

“They (the cheerleading club) have always had a positive presence at basketball games,” said Point Park director of athletic communications Kevin Taylor in a phone interview Jan. 9. “They add a lot to the atmosphere, and now that will only get enhanced.”

There have been several incarnations of cheerleading clubs at Point Park since the 1960s, but it has never been an official school sport. 

For the last five years, there has been a cheerleading club that has performed at Point Park men’s and women’s basketball games and competed in cheerleading competitions. 

“There is already the makings of a team,” Dan Swalga, Point Park athletic director, said referring to the current independent cheerleading club at the school. 

Since there was already an interest, the athletic department felt it was necessary to make cheerleading an official University sport. 

Furthermore, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) just recently recognized competitive cheer and dance as a sport, and it will be the league’s 24th championship sport in 2017. Therefore, the university felt it was the right time to add competitive cheer and dance as a varsity sport.

“It is an emerging sport in the NAIA,” Swalga said. 

This is not the first time in recent memory that Point Park has expanded its intercollegiate sports offerings. In Nov. 2013, the school added track and field as a varsity sport. And in 2009, it added men’s and women’s golf as varsity sports. 

According to the athletic department, the addition of these aforementioned sports helped increase enrollment, and the addition of a cheer and dance team should do the same. 

“I think it can be very well received with both current students, and prospective students who are not even at Point Park yet,” Taylor said. 

As for the dance aspect of the team, Taylor points out that there could be crossover appeal for the school’s newest varsity sport. Point Park possesses a noted dance program, so perhaps there are dancing artists who would enjoy performing competitively. Moreover, he believes this team will mesh well with the Point Park culture.

“There are a lot of talented students at Point Park, and this new team fits in with other things going on at Point Park,” Taylor said.

The athletic department is currently accepting coaching staff applications for its impending competitive cheer and dance team. Students who are interested in joining the competitive cheer and dance team must meet the requirements of the NAIA eligibility center. 

According to the club’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, Bettina Herold is the coach of the current unsponsored Point Park cheerleading team. As of now, it is uncertain if she is interested in a competitive cheer and dance coaching position. 

Point Park’s competitive cheer and dance head coaching job is a part-time position. Swalga is looking for a coach who has experience in competitive cheer and dance. He also values someone who has strong recruiting skills. 

“This person has to be knowledgeable about the sport (competitive cheer and dance),” Swalga said.

Both Swalga and Taylor believe this will enhance the overall quality of Point Park’s athletic program.

Women from Point Park's cheerleading team perform a stunt during the women's basketball game halftime show.

 

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