The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

In the spotlight: Club cheer’s impact at W&L

Two students share their experiences on the club cheer team and how it’s benefitted their time at W&L
The 2022 club cheer team performs a stunt on the sideline of a W&L football game. Photo courtesy of Catherine McCurdy

“Six more, Six more, Come on Generals – Let’s up that score!”  These are the chants heard on the sidelines of Washington and Lee University football games. The games wouldn’t be the same without the cheer team leading the spirit and morale of the crowd, giving their all to support the players.

The cheer team has been a recreational club sport at W&L for decades. They enthusiastically cheer on the football team each fall season.

“We are an official recreational club sport at Washington and Lee. We have a long history here on campus spanning decades. Our Advisor, Jenny Davidson, is a great fit because she was involved with the team when she was a student at W&L until her graduation in 2008,” said Valerie Puliafico, ’24, head captain of the cheer team.

The team’s activities consist of sideline routines, chanting and stunting. Practices consist of four hours a week, when the team learns cheers and stunts.

The cheer team has an official coach, Lily Weitz. She is a second-year law student at Washington and Lee University School of Law. She was a member of the undergraduate class of 2022 and was on the squad during her time at W&L.

Puliafico, now Head Captain and upcoming W&L graduate, joined the team without any prior experience.

“I had nearly no cheerleading experience when I tried out for the team. I have an extensive background in martial arts though, which actually carries over unexpectedly well, because the coordination, memorization and strength training allowed me to very easily step into cheerleading.”

Just like Puliafico, current cheerleader Grace McCurdy, ’26, joined the team her freshman year.

“The team reached out to me over the summer on social media,” McCurdy said. “I had never done cheer before, except once in seventh grade. I wanted to start my college years off right by trying new things and taking advantage of clubs and groups on campus. When they reached out to me, it felt like a great opportunity to do just that.”

She decided to try out and was accepted onto the team.

McCurdy acted as a flyer her freshman year, and now is a front spot in stunting.

“We have a really cohesive group, and it has been fun getting to know all the girls on cheer. It is also wonderful to spread some joy on campus and to the greater community,” McCurdy said.

She added that football players’ parents also always come up to them after the games “to personally thank us for cheering on the team.”

The parents will even get them gifts as a “thank you” for supporting the football team.

“My favorite experience was when there were some little children who would get so excited every time we would cheer and stunt and would sit right up against the railing to get close to us,” McCurdy said.

McCurdy said that cheer has been one of the best decisions she made at W&L because it gave her an outlet for personal growth.

“I wasn’t someone who could perform in front of a large crowd in high school the way I do now,” she said.

Long term, team members said they hope the club will become a competitive team.

Puliafico explained that cheer has historically not done competitions. The decision to move to competitive cheer would be a team-wide decision.

“I am eagerly waiting to see what the team does next season. We have a group of incredibly talented, dedicated and passionate girls returning to the squad next year, and they bring the most incredible energy to practices and games,” she said.

Like McCurdy, Puliafico agrees that the cheerleading team has been one of the most wonderful things that she’s been a part of at W&L.

“The sport and the girls on the squad have truly helped make my years here so much more fun and memorable,” she said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Ring-tum Phi Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *