Lakerettes’ spirit still soaring, even amidst obstacles

Lakerettes Spirit Still Soaring - LakerettesBy Shawn Gakhal
shawnonthetorch@gmail.com

It’s always the athletes that get all the fame and fortune, isn’t it?
The glamour of temporary notoriety flickers like a flame in a gaping wind before it finally wilts, and we’re all clamoring for the next big thing.

It’s in these fleeting moments that we forget what propels the team, hypes up the stirring fan base and energizes these superstar athletes to glory and victory — the Lakerettes.

The Lakerettes are the most oft-forgotten aspect of the sports program at Roosevelt University.

Whether it’s cheering on the school’s teams with unbridled energy or representing the university at a Chicago Bulls game, the Lakerettes’ close-knit bond and infectious dance spirit always seem to shine through to brighten up the day and provide that extra needed push for the team.

Senior Andrea Espinosa talked about what it means to her to be a part of the Lakerettes.

“Being a Lakerette means being a part of a family,” Espinosa said. “I love all the girls on the team. It also means keeping the spirits high at the basketball games. The men’s and women’s basketball teams are phenomenal, and they deserve fans who cheer and get just as excited at the games as they do. And we’re just that — their number one fans!”

Junior Alexa Brainin explained the family dynamic between the Lakerettes.

“This is by far the most different experience I’ve ever had,” Brainin said. “Because it is run by students. … I think we’ve all grown from each other. It’s definitely a family dynamic — without one, we don’t have the others.”

Junior Kristen Hamilton echoed her teammate’s familial sentiments towards the team.

“It’s like having a big group of sisters,” Hamilton said. “It’s really a support system. It’s everything.”

While the Lakerettes’ bond is as strong as ever, the ride hasn’t always been this rosy.

A variety of obstacles have challenged their resolve this past year, including a lack of structured uniforms and a miscommunication between the men’s basketball team and the cheerleaders, which had the Lakerettes missing a game.

Brainin spoke about the support that the Lakerettes need from the university.

“I think we just need the school support,” she said. “I truly think the school benefits when they have a cheerleading team. I know multiple girls who have now come and gone … because they didn’t [have] an opportunity to cheer or dance. And that may not be their first priority … but they’ve transferred because it’s lacking.”

While other sports teams here at the university are supported financially, the Lakerettes are self-funded, which means they all have a personal stake in the team.

Espinosa described in depth the level of appreciation that she feels the team receives and the responsibility of being self-funded.

“I think we are appreciated,” she said. “We aren’t considered athletics, so everything we do is on our own. We buy our uniforms with our own money, choreograph all of our dances and have even done several cheer competitions. We make sure we come out and cheer at all the basketball home games, even if that means coming out on a weekend or right after a night class. We try and pump up the players and the crowd and keep them in high spirits. If our hard work wasn’t appreciated [here], that would be pretty sad and I don’t think the Lakerettes would still be going as strong as we are today.”

Brainin explained, “As long as you have dedicated girls, you have a dedicated team.”

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