Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT Spirit Squad to Make Season Debut at Sept. 9 Home Football Game

Chelsey Westfall
The WT Spirit Squad is ready to root on the home teams, as well as participate in several other University activities. (Photo by Chelsey Westfall)

CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University’s official ambassadors of cheer will make their 2023-24 debut at the home opener football game Sept. 9.

The WT Spirit Squad, a 34-person team of WT students, will root the team on to victory during the Sept. 9 WT football game against Adams State University. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Photo: Jessica Jones is the new head coach of WT’s Spirit Squad.

The team is under the direction of new coach Jessica Jones, a lifelong cheerleader and instructor for the Universal Cheerleaders Association and its owner, Varsity.

“I’ve been involved in cheerleading since I was a kid, taught at many camps and have done choreography around the country,” Jones said. “I’m excited to grow our numbers and improve their skills. I really hope the WT Spirit Squad will continue to be a program that the community, alumni and the University will be really proud of.”

Jones landed on WT’s radar when she choreographed a routine for the squad in 2021, said Kimberly Cornelsen, senior director of WT’s Office of Student Engagement and Leadership.

“We are thrilled to have Jessica as our new head coach and know that she will make a huge impact on the program,” Cornelsen said. “She brings an enormous amount of experience, but more importantly, she has deep roots with both coaches and athletes across the state of Texas.”

University Spirit  was formed in 2020 in the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership to encompass an array of organizations and initiatives, including the Spirit Squad, Maroon Platoon, Bucky the Mascot and more.

The Spirit Squad leads cheers and chants, entertains during halftime and time-outs, and helps with game promotions and contests. In addition to their duties at football games, the squad also performs at various special events and celebrations, including Buff Branding and other campus-wide festivities. Team members exhibit tumbling, dance and cheer skills.

Maroon Platoon is a student-led organization with chanting and dancing members decked out in maroon body paint. Other University Spirit organizations and initiatives include West Texas Wednesdays, when students, faculty and staff wear maroon weekly; Buff Branding, a series of orientation events designed to introduce elements of campus life to new students and transfers; Pigskin Revue, the traditional Homecoming pep rally; the Homecoming parade; Paint the Town Maroon, where WT students paint windows around campus and Canyon for Homecoming Week; student organization tailgating; and more.

The 2023-24 Spirit Squad members include five team captains: Larissa Alderete, a sophomore marketing major from Plainview; Riley Askins, a sophomore education major from Bushland; Lexi Farmer, a sophomore digital media and communications major from Amarillo; Amon Fredinand, a sophomore dance major from Amarillo; and Jayden Lucas, a sophomore dance education major from Amarillo.

Team members also include Audriana Apodaca, a sophomore sports medicine major from Springer, New Mexico; Cesi Arellano, a junior nursing major from Tulia; Brittany Bartlett, a sophomore sports and exercise science major from Lubbock; Alexis Bolton, a sophomore business major from White Deer; Jax Brooks, a Where the Learning Continues student from Amarillo; Tyler Chase, a freshman animal science major from Whitharral; Kaleigh De La Cruz, a dance major from Chicago; KDee Dowdy, a freshman animal science major from Springtown; Savannah Evans, a sophomore pre-nursing major from Canyon; Genesis Flores, a freshman sports and exercise science major from Perryton; Sarah Gil, a junior psychology major from El Paso; Sam Gonzalez, a sophomore psychology major from Spearman; Jalynn Groseclose, a junior communication disorders major from Stephenville; Sirrah Harris, a sophomore pre-nursing major from Lubbock; Katelyn Lechwar, a freshman sports and exercise science major from Tulia; Hunter Lee, a junior education major from Amarillo; Kimberly Light, a freshman forensic psychology major from Pampa; Karyme Martinez, a freshman biology major from Seminole; Fantasia Morgan, a freshman dance major from Roswell, New Mexico; Kinsey Newman, a junior music technology major from Bushland; D’Andre Ordonez, a freshman psychology major from Amarillo; Ribbin Saisasong, a sophomore computer information systems major from Amarillo; Monica Salas, a sophomore early childhood education major from Canadian; Abigayle Slater, a sophomore psychology major from Lovington, New Mexico; Paige Smart, a sophomore special education major from Clyde; Kaitlyn Snyder, a junior pre-nursing major from Bushland; Lorelai Stager, a sophomore dance major from Seguin; Shelby Thomes, a freshman pre-nursing major from Stephenville; and Macy Tucker, a sophomore public relations/advertising major from Elkhart, Kansas.

Offering students educational experiences outside the classroom that allows them to showcase their abilities and accomplishments is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World .

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

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