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By Alison Hutchens. May 4, 2012 - 3:53 am
HPU said that the teams were not going to be allowed to compete at Nationals again and that they were “restructuring” the cheer and dance program — as well as cutting the budget of the talent program, which also includes Spirit Club and Student Life.
An uproar began. In the meeting, the representatives were asked by students how much money they would need to raise in order to go to Nationals and what they could do to help. The school’s response was that the task would be impossible and couldn’t be done, not even allowing a chance to try to fundraise.
We immediately started to organize. A captain of HPU small co-ed, I posted on social media sites my personal e-mail account. Within three hours I had received more than 30 e-mails from people around the globe. Most were from young cheerleaders whose dream was to one day be a member of the HPU cheer and dance program.
The program, along with help from the student government, has made an online petition and a Facebook group that has more than 9,000 members. Cheerleader Allie Huylebroeck designed a T-shirt to sell online via PayPal to help raise money for the cheer and dance fund. In five five days the program raised more than $5,000.
The school underestimated how much support our program has throughout the globe and how much dedication its current and previous members have to this program. As a soon to be alumnae, it breaks my heart that I will never again see the team I put everything into compete again. This program has been through many ups and downs, yet year after year we come back from Nationals with national titles.
Last year, six weeks before leaving for Nationals, the cheer program was told that our coach was fired but that we still had the option to go to Nationals with HPU’s support. Every person in the program voted to compete — coach or no coach. Competing at NCA collegiate nationals was each person’s main reason for attending HPU in the first place, and we wouldn’t let anything stop us from pursuing that dream. In return for our hard work, dedication, love for the program and perseverance, the cheer program returned with titles in the large co-ed, small co-ed, all-girl partner stunt and open partner stunt divisions.
Each year since I started here in 2009, the school has asked for more fundraising money and has made budget cuts — and every year we found a way to pay for those costs so that we could ensure the future of this program. We are all willing to work to fundraise money for Nationals; all we ask is the chance to do that. In the short amount of time since its announcement, we have gained a tremendous amount of support that has yet to fade.
I was in Florida this last week representing the all-girl Team USA team at Cheerleading Worlds and was approached repeatedly by people asking about the HPU cheer and dance program. All of them were amazed that the school would do this to its winning organization. Most credited our program with “putting HPU on the map.”
This program has spent the last 10 years building its legacy. The sadness and pain I feel is extraordinary. To know that the program I have worked so hard to be a part of, to remain a part of and to win in the name of HPU is going to come to an end is beyond heart breaking.
We understand the budget cuts, but give us the chance to raise money. I think HPU would be surprised with the outcome and would understand how much this program means.
HPU Cheer Team