The role of a spirit leader goes beyond leading the crowd from the sidelines or competing for a trophy. It’s about being a positive leader in your community and ambassador for your university, no matter the circumstances. Although going back to school this fall is going to look different across America, the primary role of a cheerleader or dancer remains the same – support the success of others and create a welcoming, spirited atmosphere for all.

Here’s how your spirit program can get involved:

Back to School - Welcoming Ideas

In-person:  

  • Create a “spirit tunnel” with streamers, balloons and banners to welcome back the students, professors and staff in your student union, library, or other popular area on campus. 
  • Have your band play the fight song or some band chants around campus during the first week of classes. 

Virtual:  

  • Write encouraging messages to professors, staff and fellow students. 
  • Schedule times with professors for your Mascot to virtually pop into a Zoom classroom to welcome students back to class or, have the entire spirit program join the virtual class to lead the students in a school chant.  
  • Start a mentoring program: As some of the most visible students on campus, cheerleaders and dancers can help raise the bar for academics, school spirit and overall behavior inside and outside of the classroom. Start a school mentoring program where incoming freshman students can pair up with a member of the spirit program to guide them through their first year. “Buddies” can meet in-person or virtually.

Celebrate your School's History

  • In order to be an ambassador for your school, you need to know your history! Cheerleaders and dancers can write weekly history updates to include in the school announcements, create a history column for the website or post on your university’s social media channels – posts could feature influential professors, founders, the school’s namesake, sports legends and outstanding alumni. 
  • Create a “School Facts Quiz” to see who knows all about your history and share it on social media. Get creative and make it a contest with fun school-themed prizes.
  • Host an event (in-person or virtual) to teach the incoming freshman and transfers the game day traditions of your school. You could teach them the fight song, alma mater, favorite band chants, and cheers to get them ready to support during the upcoming seasons.

     

Collaborate with other Sports, Groups and Clubs via BAND

  • BAND, the official team communication app of Varsity Spirit, is the best way to communicate with your student body even while you may not be physically together. Learn more about BAND here. The spirit program could create and manage groups such as:
    • Incoming freshman BAND: Create a first year student BAND group where students could connect in chats from their city/state and get to know their fellow [TIGER] classmates before they meet in person on campus. You could upload videos of your school traditions so the first year’s can virtually join in the fun!
    • Watch party BAND: Are you not going to be able to attend your football games this fall? Create a watch party BAND group where you can cheer your athletes on virtually with other students, alumni and fans!
    • [Business College] BAND: The spirit program could create different BAND groups for each of the colleges (Business, Science, the Arts, etc.) and allow students to join and interact with others who are in the same major / general field as them. It’s a great way to make connections you could use even after you graduate!
  • As cheerleaders and dancers, you can build strong relationships with other sports / groups outside of the teams you cheer/dance for, so everyone feels a stronger connection to their place of learning. Create a BAND group for leaders of all sports, groups and clubs at your school so you can stay connected while apart and continue to support one another.  
  • Team of the Week: Have your cheer or dance team highlight another sports team at your school in some way. Post on your social accounts about that certain team, its members, its accomplishments, etc. Give them a shout out and let them know you are rooting for them! 

Get Involved in your Community

At games, the primary role of a cheerleader or dancer is to rally the crowd and support the success of others. While most sporting events are taking an extended timeout, we must refocus our efforts to the people who need our support right now. Reach out to your local hospitals, fire stations and other essential businesses that are open to see how you can help these local heroes.  

  • Create an encouraging message cheering for a hometown hero – here’s how:  
    • Post a video or photo thanking and cheering on service workers 
    • Tag five friends and family and encourage them to share spirit 
    • Tag us (@VarsitySpirit) so we can share the message 
  • Organize a group of representatives to share spirit with you in the community. Ex: Host a “Traveling Community Pep Rally” – Spirit squads and the band/drum line can go to a parking lot or outdoor common area at a nursing home or hospital and host a short rally that can be viewed from afar or even from the windows. Then, the spirit program can pack up and move on to the next home / hospital and continue the trend all throughout your town!
  • Team Up for St. Jude – Spirited by Varsity 

Host a Virtual Alumni Event

  • The cheerleading or dance team can host a virtual event for alumni far and wide. Here’s a step by step on how to set one up: 
    • Select a date, time and streaming service for your alumni event.
    • Plan a timeline with your list of activities. Your activities should include a wide representation of the student body – so everyone feels included!
    • Select an MC – it could be a cheerleader/dancer, fun professor, coach, student government member, etc.
    • Practice with the host, activity leaders and whoever is running the event from a technical perspective.
    • Share the date, time and how to tune in on your school’s alumni social media channels, in your alumni announcements, emails, website, etc.
    • The day of the event – be sure to log on early to make sure you don’t have any technical issues.
    • When the event begins, be sure to have fun music playing as alumni are logging on to keep everyone engaged.
    • Keep the event to about 30 minutes – and have FUN!
  • Here is a sample Virtual Alumni Event Schedule:
    • 3:00PM – Alumni login as “band” music plays
    • 3:05PM – Welcome from MC and alumni president
    • 3:10PM – Alumni scavenger hunt (See who has the most school spirit gear in their homes!)
    • 3:15PM – Pre-recorded video of inspirational message from student leader (could be the student body president, football player, etc.) thanking the alumni for their support
    • 3:20PM – Performance time! Pre-recorded video of performances from cheerleaders, dancers and band
    • 3:25PM – Coach or motivational professor hops on to explain how important alumni support really is!
    • 3:30PM – “Band” plays fight song (could use a pre-recorded video or track) as alumni dismiss

Host a Virtual Game Night

  • Although you may not be inviting alumni to your campus for a traditional in-person sporting event, you could host a virtual event for alumni to engage in some healthy competition over online games. Bring your alumni together for a fun night of online Charades, Monopoly, cards, etc. Take it a notch higher with special appearances from your head football coach, university president or even your school Mascot!

Increase Engagement on Social Media

  • Cheerleaders and dancers can encourage other students to follow your school’s social media channels. Don’t have any? See if the spirit program can create a school Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to stay connected – even while we may be physically apart.   
  • Plan a Social Media Spirit Week and rally the entire school to get involved! Click here for a step by step on how cheerleaders and dancers can help plan it.
  • Alumni photos that capture happy moments are another great way to get people to interact with one another. You can start a photo contest by encouraging your alumni to post their photos on your alumni website or alumni group on social media.
  • Even though you might not be entertaining the crowd from the sidelines right now, cheerleaders and dancers can still entertain friends and family on social media. Sharing a positive post during a time where social media feeds are filled with uncertainty will put a smile on your followers faces and act as a beacon of hope. 
  • Zoom Backgrounds: Show you’re a [GATOR] from wherever you are! Whether you’re attending class virtually, meeting with an instructor, teaching a course, or conferencing with your colleagues, digital Zoom backgrounds will help you show your school pride during remote meetings. You could use photos of well recognized areas around campus like the football field, basketball court, common areas, library, etc.

Organize a Virtual Race

With everyone inside more than usual, physical fitness for some may be taking a back seat. Aid your students, professors, staff, alumni and fans through this phase of social distancing and encourage them to make exercise a part of their routine by organizing a virtual race. A virtual race can have participants from any location within a predetermined time. Photos shared by participants during their walk/run can further be shared on social media. Try to get other sports teams to participate like the football or basketball teams to hype up the event even more. You can turn the event into a fundraiser for the university or for a charity of your choice.

Organize a Virtual Watch Party

  • Universities across the country are making decisions on if they are having games and if so, will they allow fans. If fans are unable to join you at in-person events this fall – you could organize virtual watch parties! Encourage fans to submit pictures of their watch party set-up and engage with you on social media.
  • If your university doesn’t plan to have sports this fall, organize a Virtual Watch Party of a past game that your school is proud of. It could be any sport from any generation. Just set up a streaming service so fans can watch and spread the word!

Write Letters to Alumni

The power of a handwritten note is stronger than ever in our new virtual world. Each cheerleader or dancer on your team can commit to writing one letter a day to your alumni thanking them for their support. Be sure to personalize it with their name and include a direct call to action.