Cheerleading gets makeover

Portland State’s cheerleading squad is looking forward to huge changes in their program.

Portland State’s cheerleading squad is looking forward to huge changes in their program.

In the fall, PSU Cheer plans to separate the team into stunting and dance squads and reward their athletes with partial scholarships. Open tryouts for the stunting side of the team will be held April 23–24.

The team currently trains year-round and cheers for the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, but they are not considered a varsity sport. As a result, funding for the program is limited and they have not been able to offer scholarships in the past. With the new reforms there will be some scholarship opportunities for the athletes.

Senior Ilona Malenkovich, the team’s captain and a triple-major in English, communication studies and arts and letters with a minor in sociology, said that adding scholarships would increase dedication in the team.

“With the incentive of the scholarships, everyone will really buckle down and commit for the entire year,” Malenkovich said.

The dynamics for the team’s 2010–11 season will feature a co-ed squad of ten men and ten women, with scholarships for $750 to $1,500 and ensured game performances given to the top six couples, as decided by the coach. The other four women and four men will be considered as alternates.

The cheerleaders will be responsible for cheering at all home men’s and women’s basketball games, home football games, and selected appearances at volleyball games and certain away games. They will also be required to be involved in a variety of community and volunteer opportunities that are given to the team.

Though cheerleading is often questioned as to its legitimacy as a sport, Malenkovich said that the practices are regimented just like any other sport.

“We go on a run, stretch, review material, tumble, stunt, condition and then have a team meeting,” she said.

Coach Ryan Long will again be heading the team after finishing his first season with PSU this year. He was a past cheerleader for U of O and also stunted for the Trailblazers cheer squad. He will be bringing in a new assistant coaching staff of Stephanie Sheron for dance and Jacob Brasuell for conditioning and tumbling.

Open tryouts for the stunting cheer team for the 2010–11 season will be held on Friday, April 23 from 6:30–10 p.m. at the Stott Center in the small gymnasium. There will be a second mandatory tryout on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for females, and 1–6 p.m. for males. The cost for the tryouts is $10.

Females will be judged on four main aspects of their ability: Cheer, tumbling, dance and partner stunting. Males will be evaluated on tumbling techniques and partner stunting levels.

Dance tryouts are still to be announced, but more information on both of the teams can be found at

Malenkovich offered advice for those that may be returning to the sport or even starting new.

“Use the first year as a learning experience, take it all with a grain of salt, and learn that your teammates may correct you, but that they are always trying to help you,” she said.