On Saturday Oct. 18 the Keene State College Cheer team brought school pride and team spirit to Main Street during the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival.
The team started the day at eight a.m. by taking the sidelines at the Great Pumpkin Mile and cheering on participants.
They ended the day with a performance, then accompanying children in the costume parade.
The girls created a tunnel at the start and finish line of the Great Pumpkin Mile cheering people on until the last person finished.
“I later found out that the woman who finished last was almost in tears that we stayed and waited for her,” Head Cheer Coach Chris Fecteau said.
“That [the pumpkin mile] was probably the most memorable part of the day for me,” sophomore cheerleader Kylie Coffey said. She continued, “It was so great to know that we made an impact on her day,” Coffey said.
After a quick team breakfast the team practiced skills behind Ted’s Shoe and Sport before performing a two minute routine for the entire community. “Ted McGreer was really excited to have us there — which is awesome because he’s very influential and very respected in the community,” Fecteau said.
At 11:45 a.m. it was time to perform.
According to Coffey, a huge crowd formed and it got even bigger once they threw the first basket toss.
“My roommates were just walking to Main Street and they said they saw people flipping in the air and came running,” Coffey said.
Coffey continued and said, “Performing was great. It really showed how we are coming together as a team and that we can do well in front of a crowd this early in the season.”
The girls performed a lot of skills like back tuck basket tosses and pyramids. There was a great response from the crowd and they learned a lot from their first public performance, according to freshman on the cheer team Kelsey O’Connor.
O’Connor said that some people came up to them asking if they had already performed because they thought they missed them. “Although they missed us, it shows they were excited to see us and that was cool,” O’Connor said.
For freshman cheer member Sarah Pascale, the best part of the day was getting to walk and dance with the little kids along with the marching band in the costume parade.
“I liked the parade because we got to walk through the whole town and bond with the kids. It was really fun and we got a lot of support from the community,” Pascale said.
Along with leading the kids in the costume parade, they even made kids “Honorary Owls.”
“I have this thing called Honorary Owl. Basically, any kid that we meet we put them up in a stunt, let them hit a motion and call them an Owl then post the picture to our Facebook page and it’s really exciting for the kids,” Fecteau said.
Pascale said that the parents who took pictures of the girls with their kids looked really happy and the kids loved playing with the red and white pom-poms and would give the girls high fives. “Hootie,” KSC’s mascot, also made an appearance.
“You never know how you’re going to affect a kid. There could be a kid you meet who wants to be an owl for the rest of their life after,” Fecteau said. Fecteau also said that the way people responded to who the team was in a positive way and that good things are starting to happen for the team.
Although Keene State College as a whole had a weekend full of bad press the team had a different outlook.
The cheer team is still very excited to represent KSC according to their coach.
“We’re pushing forward and its good to get out in the community and represent the good side of Keene State and be a part of that,” Fecteau said.
Kendall Pope can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org