‘Generous donation’ funds squad travel


Jim Quist

Yurika Hori, senior secondary education major does one of her signature moves at the MIAA Tournament, March 6.

A budget crisis at Missouri Southern wasn’t enough to keep the spirit squad from the MIAA tournament.

With the help of a “generous donation,” the University’s cheerleaders attended the men’s and women’s basketball games last week in Kansas City.

Spirit Squad Coach Janel Smith wouldn’t say who was behind the donation, other than that they are “a big supporter of Southern basketball.”

“The donation was given for one night’s (hotel) stay,” Smith said. “Then the rest of it came out of our account.”

Even though Southern has cut budgets and faces a money shortage, Smith thought it was important for her squad to cheer on the basketball teams in the tournament.

“It’s just something every year that’s a tradition,” Smith said. “They make it to the MIAA Tournament, they make it that far and they (the cheerleaders) consider it an honor for the team to make it that far and they want to be there and support them for that, because not every team makes it that far in the MIAA.”

In addition to cheering at the game, the squad forms a “spirit tunnel” in the hotel before games.

“Before whichever team was playing they would make a spirit tunnel in the hotel, cheer them on as they were leaving the hotel and going to the arena,” Smith said. “The tunnel is made up of cheerleaders, dancers and all the fans that were up there.”

Smith said the squad’s presence at the tournament improved the atmosphere for both Southern teams and fans.

“I think it really sets the mood up for the game and just helps,” she said. “We’re chanting the whole time ‘defense’ or ‘MSSU,’ chants the crowd can yell with, and when you get to that level the crowd is definitely willing to yell with us, so it’s full of excitement.”

Smith said the squad’s presence was appreciated by more than just the players.

“I had some people come up to me and thank us for coming up and how good of a job the cheerleaders and dancers did,” she said.

Southern’s spirit squad will hold tryouts for next year’s team at 7 p.m. May 1 and 9 a.m. May 2 in Young Gymnasium.

Interested students may contact Smith at 417-850-3419.