Blue Hen spirit
University's spirit teams build on summer camp experiences
10:42 a.m., Sept. 6, 2012--The polished performances of University of Delaware spirit teams at athletic contests and campus events start with a lot of hard work at summer camp.
Offered by the Universal Cheerleading Association and United Dance Association (UCA/UDA), the camps give mascots, cheerleaders and dancers the opportunity to power up their repertoire of skills while learning about new trends, steps, techniques and routines.
The UD mascot and cheerleading teams took several awards at the UCA camp held Aug. 8-12 at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
With a Blue Hen brood that included Baby Blue, Air YoUDee and Mascot Hall of Fame member YoUDee, the mascot team took first place in the championship and leadership categories.
Continuing a long tradition of rallying Blue Hen fans, the 2012-13 cheerleading team won most collegiate, leadership, coed team fight song and overall game day awards.
With expertise from two UDA instructors, the dance team held a private summer camp on UD’s Newark campus.
Of this year’s trip to Scranton, returning mascot camp veteran Emily Ridall, a junior elementary education/special education major, said, “I found I was more interested in seeing and helping people who were there for the first time.”
Three-year team member Andrew Davis, a senior environmental engineering major, said the camp came together very well. “While we were there, we helped out several other mascots, especially the students who were the only team member from their school.”
Kenny Siebold, mascot team captain and senior organizational and community leadership major, said that his role has evolved from being the new guy to helping others during their first year camp experience.
“I found myself stepping out and helping other people more this year,” Siebold, a four-year mascot veteran, said. “I enjoy helping the new members on our team and also people from other teams.”
Sara Kucker, a senior women’s studies major, said, “I like the idea that even though camp is a competition, all of the 15 mascots at the camp bonded together.”
New members found the camp experience to be a crash course in Basic Mascot 101.
“I came to camp with a small group of people, and I learned a lot,” said Ryan Jones, a freshman university studies major. “Being with my team members was like being part of a family.”
Thomas Welde, a freshman nursing major, said, “You gain a lot of new skills, like how to sew, clean up and work with others.”
Abby Kramer, a sophomore environmental science major, said, “I was really nervous when I got to camp, but by the end of camp I was really excited about getting into costume and hanging out with other teams.”
Chad Mills, a biological sciences major who graduated from UD in 2011, has returned as assistant mascot coach. Building on a mascot career that began as Caravel Academy’s Bob the Buccaneer, Mills brings three years of UD mascot team experience to his coaching duties.
“I fell in love with UD and being a mascot,” Mills said. “As a coach, I feel like I’m passing the torch to the new members so they can love the experience as much as I did.”
National champion mascot YoUDee has been selected one of 16 mascots included in the 2012 Capital One Mascot Challenge. Blue Hens fans have an opportunity to support YoUDee in the competition to decide the Capitol One National Mascot of the Year.
With 20 members attending, the coed UD cheerleading team received the ACA camp’s award for most collegiate.
“This is given to the team that has the overall positive image of what a college team should look like and act in representing their university,” said third-year coach Ben Schreiber. “We also won the leadership award, picked by all the other coed teams at camp -- simply stated, if they could be on another team at camp, which one would they choose.”
The cheerleading team took first place in the coed team fight song competition and also was named overall game day champion.
“There was a competition on the final day of camp where teams show the material and skills learned at camp,” Schreiber said. “Based on placing third in cheer, second in sideline and tops in band chant competitions, we were named overall champions for the coed divisions.”
The all-girl cheerleaders also are returning for their second year as part of the UD cheerleading team.
Schreiber said the cheerleaders have been practicing twice a day since Aug. 17 to prepare for football, basketball and volleyball games. Cheerleaders also are working up a routine for Blue Hen Hoopla, slated for Friday, Oct. 12, at the Bob Carpenter Center.
“Having the most first-year team members ever, I’m very excited about the potential of this team,” Schreiber said. “As I enter my fourth year as coach, I’m very excited to see what we can accomplish at games, events, and ultimately the nationals in January.”
The 18-member dance team begins the fall season with a full complement of six freshman, eight sophomores, three juniors and a senior. Nicole Daliessio-Zehnder, dance team coach, said the team has been busy working on a wide range of performance skills.
“We had technique classes to better our turns and leaps, and learned many routines in varying styles from jazz to hip hop. We also hold many teambuilding activities to help foster team unity,” Daliessio-Zehnder said. “I’m very happy with the talent, determination and level of commitment I have already seen on this year’s team.”
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photo by Evan Krape