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Two Left Feet Not Needed For This

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 29, 2007

Doc’s Note: This is the latest in a series of columns on sports at Crichton. These columns will appear regularly until the end of the school year.

For many years, man has questioned the art of cheerleading as a legitimate sport, mainly because of the emergence of one of the greatest films ever made in American history that starred Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst –“Bring It On” — and because during the 2006 Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Tournament, one of the cheerleaders from Southern Illinois University injured herself after falling from a pyramid and continued her routine from her stretcher.

But on a cloudy afternoon, I sat with a handful of people in the gym at Crichton as four students vied for a chance to become the mascot for the 2007-08 basketball season and win a scholarship.

“This is the first year that we have a hardcore mascot,” Danstar coach Hallie Carr said to the four candidates, “we didn’t do this as much last year. It was more in and out as far as the mascot thing was concerned.”

The first part of the audition was the crowd interaction part, which combined dance along with interaction with the crowd. Each of the four participants took turns putting what could be easily a huge ice cream scoop on a cone over their heads and strutted their stuff.

“We want to see how well you interact with the audience because interaction with the fans is a big role in being a mascot,” Coach Carr said to the participants.

After the crowd interaction portion of the audition was over. Coach Carr decided to put the four candidates out on the floor with the Danstars and dance to various songs.

The first one who came out on the floor with the dance team, from my standpoint, was on point with their performance during Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (The Hey Song),” which in some cases can be a very easy song to dance to because it doesn’t require a person to learn any steps.

After the next two came up short in the routine with the dance team, one of the favorites in the running for the mascot, Jonah Leavell, came on the floor and did a masterful job of keeping up with not only the song, but also the dance team’s routine by improvising, which is something that is key for any mascot.

“He’s going to get it,” I said to someone, “he has tons of energy and that’s a big key in any mascot’s role.”

As soon as Leavell finished on the court with the dance team, Coach Carr got in a huddle with the four candidates and discussed the next step of the audition.

“We’re having a scrimmage on tomorrow night,” she said, “It’s going to give you a chance to perform in front of a big crowd. After that, then we’ll announce on the website who’s the lucky winner of the audition.”

And hopefully, whoever the person may be, doesn’t beat up the opposing mascot or cheerleader into oblivion.

But then again, this isn’t the high-roller world of college athletics.

It’s NAIA, stupid.

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