|Marissa Vespa, a captain of UMD's Hockey Cheer Team.|
This winter, Amsoil Arena will be filled with fans supporting the UMD Men’s Hockey team. Among students, kids, and other members of the community, there is a group that is particularly devoted to encouraging the team’s success, UMD's Hockey Cheer Team. Marissa Vespa, a captain of the cheerleading squad, organizes many aspects of the cheer team’s responsibilities, while keeping morale high.
Vespa, a junior majoring in health care management, uses skills obtained from her position as a leader on the team and applies them to her academics, and vice versa. “Being part of a team has prepared me to work steadily with others, it also has strengthened my problem solving skills,” Vespa said. “As a captain, I've made many connections with advisors and staff members at UMD. This has helped me practice methods of professional communication that I will use in the future.” Vespa explains that the organizational skills acquired through academics and school work have been applied to construct the foundation and groundwork for the club as a whole. "There is a lot of behind the scenes paper work that needs to be taken care of for the team. The managerial information I've learned in my classes definitely helps with that process."
The 2015-2016 season will be Vespa’s third year as a member on the hockey cheer team and second year being a captain. She leads the cheer team with two other captains and eight other squad members. “I first got involved with the team so I could continue skating and cheering; it’s now an outlet to meet new people and get involved both on campus and in the community,” she said. “We have a close-knit team that is passionate about skating, dance, and performing. Even though we come from different backgrounds and have varying future goals, we have a lot in common which makes teamwork a lot easier."
UMD’s clubs and organizations provide opportunities for students to receive experience while participating in an activity they love. Many of the clubs are self-governed under Kirby Student Center. “The responsibility of independently running a club without any outside help requires patience and adept time management skills.” Vespa said. “I think some underestimate the amount of time invested into extra-curricular activities; we greatly appreciate any help we receive from UMD’s staff members in the athletics department who take the time to work with us.” The cheer team is unique in that most of their events collaborate with the hockey team’s schedule; this has allowed them to connect with the athletic department on campus.
“Our time at the arena is spent interacting with the audience,” Vespa said. “Cheering in front of a large audience means that you are constantly being watched, a lot of the time by children. This serves as a reminder to each of our members that we are role models in the community, and it is important to maintain positive energy throughout the game.” The mission of UMD's Hockey Cheer Team is to support the hockey team, get fans involved, and perform routines for audience entertainment. The Bulldogs’ first season home game will be Fri., October 9 at 7:07 pm against Bemidji State at Amsoil Arena.
|Marissa Vespa (fifth from the left) discusses and reviews Friday's game plan with the 2015-2016 Cheer Team.|