“Two-four-six-eight! Who do we appreciate?” Northwestern’s cheer program is back in full swing this year and off to a great start. With the help of Coach Amy Dahl and student captain Hannah Reinders, the squad is ready to make some noise and spread a little cheer around campus.
The program had been discontinued due to a lack of interest and a struggle to find a coach. Coach Dahl, a former NW cheerleader, has shown a great passion for the program and has worked hard to develop the foundation for a strong squad.
After Dahl’s husband Rik accepted the wrestling coach position at NW in 2008, the Dahl family moved back to Iowa from Colorado. Soon after their move, Coach Barry Brandt approached Amy Dahl with the idea of bringing back cheerleading.
Coach Dahl has not only brought enthusiasm to the squad but also many years of experience. Dahl started cheerleading during her high school days in Denver, Colo, where her squad qualified for a cheer competition at the ESPN finals. Dahl then became a NW cheerleader and qualified for a national squad in Ukraine through “Athletes in Action.”
Dahl is using her continued passion and dedication to fire up this year’s squad.
“The thing that most excites me is the enthusiasm and joy the cheerleaders can bring to an event. The Lord has really brought them together, and it has been amazing to see their different abilities and gifts work together.”
Team Captain Hannah Reinders has drawn on her own talents and experience to play a significant role in their successful start. Reinders cheered through grade and high schools and coached a citywide cheer team in her hometown of Huron, S.D. Her role as NW cheer captain consists of organizing practices, teaching new material and helping with any problems, all while trying to keep the squad positive.
Along with Dahl, Reinders is thrilled about the program. “Cheering is a way to show the football team we are behind them 100 percent,” she said. “The program is going great, and it is so fun to get everyone excited and pumped up for the games.”
The squad consists of ten cheerleaders and four stuntmen: Lindsey Boulais, Alison Hager, Emily Loveland, Kate Mannenbach, Mel Ness, Jen Otto, Hannah Reinders, Allie Strawhacker, Charissa Thornton, Meg White, David Carter, Leon Li, Zane Platt and James Thomas.
The program has really been a positive experience for junior Mel Ness. “Cheering at the games and interacting with the crowd has been a lot of fun,” Ness said. “It’s been so rewarding to see all our hard work pay off!”
After three games, the squad is already showing improvement by attempting more difficult stunts and new cheers and chants. Their biggest goal is to find out what makes the crowd tick to get them more involved.
The squad will continue to cheer during the basketball season, so if you are interested in becoming a stuntman, please contact Coach Dahl.