The Keene State College cheer team has been busy these past few weekends with tryouts scheduled for April 18 and April 19, the Owls are holding open practices and high school clinics so new or incoming members can get a feel for what college cheer is like.

Head Coach Chris Fecteau said, “We held a college prep and recruitment clinic on March 29 as a way to introduce and expose high school athletes to collegiate level stunts and material in order to prepare them for any college tryout.” Karisa Spanos, sophomore on KSC Cheer, said, “We show them a cheer and a dance, and then they do it on their own. Then when they go back to high school they can use it there or even use it for college tryouts.”

According to Fecteau, these are not only for KSC recruits, they are also meant for cheerleaders interested in being involved in any college program. “For those interested in KSC Cheer this is an opportunity to meet the team and get acclimated to our style of cheerleading which is very different from high school cheer,” Fecteau said. Furthermore, Spanos said it was a way to expose high school cheerleaders to the college style.

“I know when I was coming in I was scared because the stunts are a lot harder and scarier,” Spanos

philip bergeron / graphic Design Editor

philip bergeron / graphic Design Editor

said. Along with this, Fectau stated, “I’m hoping to slowly build KSC Cheer as a brand in New England as a cheerleading resource as we grow and build the program. Even if athletes come to the clinic and don’t tryout, they will become ambassadors for our program if they know a friend looking for a program in New Hampshire.”

These clinics not only help the recruits, but also help the current members of the KSC team.

“Current team members gain experience helping a variety of skill levels achieve new goals,” Fecteau said. Along with this, he added how it is also a way for them to fundraise for the team’s camp in August.

According to Gabrielle Pace, another sophomore on KSC Cheer, the team held three clinics with three different high school teams.

For this clinic, she said the teams didn’t pay and it was more of a way for the KSC team to have a crowd and show the teams their routine.  She added that the last one they held was more of “college prep clinic” for individuals.

“Since college tryout season is coming up, it was a way for them to get prepared for that,” Pace stated.

In addition to these clinics, Fecteau said the team has been holding open practices in preparation for tryouts. He added how the team needs to fill some important roles.

Pace said the tryouts will take place over two days. “The first day we learn the material and work on stunts and tumbling. Then on the second day we get a panel of judges and they evaluate the dance and the cheer,” Pace noted.

After that, Pace stated they all find out that day who made the team. With a new coach the tryouts are handled a bit differently. Spanos said that before there weren’t tryouts. She added how it’s more official and different with judges coming in to assess talent. The team is also looking to expand, according to Fecteau. He said, “We really need to grow to twenty athletes, which demands five stunt groups instead of three.  So we are really hoping to grow to that size competition team.”

In addition to that, Spanos stated, “We have a game team and a comp team.” She added that game team there are up to 25 people and up to 20 people for competition.

Along with Spanos, Pace added that not a lot of people are aware of these tryouts coming up, so in the fall the team will see more people trying out. The purpose of these tryouts, Fecteau said, is to make the team’s first steps toward the national competition in January.

“Anytime you can apply a bit of pressure to a situation where you have to perform a skill is a positive learning experience no matter the outcome,” Fecteau explained.

Now for what the team is looking for, Fecteau stated, “The biggest piece I will be looking for at tryouts is a willingness to learn, great attitude and ability to apply changes quickly and willingly.”

Jeff Lunn can be contacted at

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