As I wind down my time at Grizzly Athletics I will be saying goodbye to a lot of people. When the time comes I will write an all-encompassing post thanking all the people who helped me so much during my time here. However, I don’t want to fill my blog space each night with the latest from “Brent’s Farewell Tour.” I know majority of my readers don’t want a nightly dose of my swan song.
With that said, I do want to make an exception tonight and express my appreciation to a very special group. This evening up in our football booster area (The Canyon Club) we had our Spirit Squad end of the year banquet. It was a time for our cheer squad, dance team, mascots, and coaches to get together one more time to celebrate the 2013-14 season while giving out awards and eating good food. It was also a time for our seniors to say goodbye after their many years of devotion to the program. This time around I said goodbye too.
Stereotypes run rampant in our society and one of the most unfair ones center on cheerleaders who are labeled as ditzy, obsessed with their looks, and cruel to others. Although I never subscribed to this thinking it took me less than an hour here at the University of Montana to realize that this stereotype just isn’t inaccurate but completely opposite from the truth and terribly unfair.
I feel so fortunate that I got to have such involvement with the young women and men who make up the University of Montana Spirit Squad. Because of my role as mascot coordinator combined with the Spirit Squad sitting under the marketing umbrella I got to know many of our cheer squad and dance team members very well (while of course developing even stronger bonds with our two students who serve as Monte). I can confidently say that they are some of the most driven, humble, hard-working, and passionate people I know. They do what they do because they love to dance/cheer and because they love the Griz. Basically what I am trying to say is that they do it for all the right reasons.
Like I alluded to above, I feel fortunate that I have developed relationships with many Spirit Squad members that go above playing music for them at games or driving them around on various Griz road trips. I think of many of them as friends, people who I truly care about and people who I know care about me too. For the most part I am a positive guy and I love life but I can’t count the number of times I have had a Spirit Squad member brighten my day by stopping by my office, saying something nice over social media, or yelling my name to say hi at games. In a truly humbling moment just this year, a cheer squad member asked to do a profile on me. Wait…a profile on me? It is these types of things that will really make me miss these special individuals once I make the move to South Carolina.
I don’t think the public really understands this, but the students who make up our Sprit Squad go through rigorous try outs to earn a spot in the program. They devote thousands of hours throughout their careers at practice, at competition, and in the community all in the name of Grizzly Athletics. They put their bodies through stress and pain so that they can please stadiums and arenas full of fans. The fact that they can subject themselves to this and still have enough energy to show so much respect and kindness to people like me says a lot about each one of them.
To the two mascots, the cheer squad, and the dance team: THANK YOU for making me feel so welcome in the Spirit Squad family. I will miss all of you. Don’t Blink.