CSU’s senior cheerleaders will leave poms, legacy behind

Senior+Colorado+State+University+Cheerleaders+smiling+for+a+group+photo+after+completing+one+of+their+final+practices+before+their+2021-2022+season+ends.

Collegian | Michael Giles

Senior Colorado State University cheerleaders Kaiya Jenkins, Juan Barreras, Savannah Woods and Bianca Gonzalez smile for a group photo after completing one of their final practices before their 2021-22 season ends, Feb. 14. This practice was held at the Glenn Morris Field House on College Avenue in Fort Collins.

Lee Medley

Michael Giles , Sports Reporter

While only a number of games remain to cheer at for the Colorado State University cheer team, the senior cheerleaders are leaving their poms and uniforms with much more than just physical athleticism and endurance.

The seniors on this team have not only shown an incredible amount of leadership and enthusiastic spirit while on the sidelines of games but also where it matters most: their team practices. As these seniors illuminate our student sections and sports teams with energy, it’s time to shine a light on the seniors who are part of making our arenas glow with spirit. 

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There are four seniors on the CSU 2021-22 cheerleading team, each bringing something special to their overall team spirit. The four senior cheerleaders are Juan Barreras, Savannah Woods, Bianca Gonzalez and Kaiya Jenkins.

“The legacy I want to leave behind is that diversity is everything, and as long as you put your mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t do.” -Juan Barreras, CSU senior cheerleader

As their time as CSU Ram cheerleaders comes to a close, they are sure to take the lessons they’ve learned from this team with them into their new chapters of life outside of college. 

Barreras, who’s studying social work at Colorado State, has enjoyed his time and dedication to the CSU cheer team. He is one of two male cheerleaders on the team and hopes to leave behind a legacy rooted in the importance of diversity and inclusion.

“I just want people to look at me and believe that they can also do this,” Barreras said. “I don’t want them to think that they can’t accomplish their dreams just because somebody out there that doesn’t look like them is doing what they wish they could do. The legacy I want to leave behind is that diversity is everything, and as long as you put your mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

While this is a valuable legacy to leave behind, Barreras also said he hopes he can be an inspiration to others, encouraging them to fully embrace and be the best version of themselves. 

On the notion of embracing differences, one of the biggest takeaways business administration major Gonzalez said she gained from her team and time as a cheerleader is how to work cohesively with a diverse range of people.

In four years as a student and three years as a cheerleader on the CSU team, as well as cheering for several years, Gonzalez has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people. 

“It’s showed me a lot of good values and how to be a good team player as well as a good team leader,” Gonzalez said. “I hope to leave behind that I was a good leader and a good friend outside of cheer too and that I wasn’t here just for the uniform or for the skirt — that I was here because I love this sport and I love the group of people here that we work with, and I just hope that they feel inspired or motivated by me as a person in and outside of cheer.”

Gonzalez is hopeful that as she enters the workforce, she is well prepared to work with people of various backgrounds from her experiences on the team. She said she feels prepared to help handle problems that she may encounter with people of different backgrounds through kindhearted relationships. 

Jenkins has often found herself inspired by Gonzalez and her leadership on the team.

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“I’ve never met someone who works as hard as she does,” Jenkins said. “She handles conflict resolution really well, and she’s a great leader on the team.”

For other seniors on the team, they have found their growth from cheering at CSU to be more internal through the lessons and experiences they’ve had. Woods, a fourth-year student studying sociology with a concentration in criminal justice, said she has gained a strong sense of loyalty and respect for her teammates and coaches. 

“I’ve always been really loyal to this team, and they’ve always been loyal to me, so having that respect and being loyal to coach Dawn (Burton) and each other is like, you know; you don’t find that a lot around campus,” Woods said.

Jenkins, a fourth-year student studying family and consumer sciences, said cheering at Colorado State helped break her out of her shell and gain more confidence in herself. 

“Cheer really helped me get out of my comfort zone and meet new people and also just gave me a lot of confidence in myself, like when we were working on tumbling and things like that that are really a personal and internal battle,” Jenkins said. “It has just really taught me that if I believe in myself, then I can do whatever.”

While cheer has helped Jenkins grow from within into a confident version of herself, she mentioned that one of the most positive lessons she hopes to bring with her as she leaves this cheer program is the importance of relationships. 

“One thing I’ll take away with me is probably that relationships are everything — the relationship you have with yourself and your interpersonal relationships,” Jenkins said. “If you work on those, the rest of your life thrives.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misidentified the CSU cheerleading team as the spirit squad, which also includes the CSU Golden Poms. The article has been edited to reflect this change.

Reach Michael Giles at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Michaelrenee10.