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The source of panther pride

Georgia State spirit teams are a vital part of keeping the fans and the team excited, especially during Homecoming games. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

Tight back tucks, perfect formations, smooth transitions and engaging choreography are the heart of Georgia State’s school spirit. One group of athletes are responsible for lighting a spark of morale through the student body.

The spirit teams are present at most sporting and campus events to spread excitement and show off their talents.

The university cheer teams and dance team make up the spirit teams. These are the athletes that can be found in Student Center Plaza during homecoming and at sporting events.

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The Preparation

The head coach of both dance and cheer is Darryl Lyons. He’s known to his athletes as Coach D.

“These are some of the hardest working athletes in the university,” Lyons said. “They support all of the sports. They’re the number one fans; they’re ways there.”

The athletes have two practices and two weight-lifting sessions in the Strength and Conditioning gym. Sometimes there are even multiple performances a week.

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“Practices are intense because we only practice twice a week to prepare for great events like GSU Jams,” Lyons said. “On top of all of that, everyone has to go to classes, have to keep their grades up, they work and then we have practices.” 

Homecoming is a very important time in the season for the spirit athletes. It’s also perhaps one of the busiest times for these teams.

“With it being homecoming, there are lots of extra events, so it’s really important for everyone to be really committed … so that they can be prepared and look great in all of the events,” Lyons said. “We want to look great for our alumni coming back and for all of the fans.”

Students will be able to easily spot Pounce and the cheer and dance team throughout the week, as they’ll be attending most of the events leading up to the game.

“Tuesday we have a [performance in the] plaza to get the students hyped about the game,” Lyons said. “Wednesday is [Georgia State’s Got Talent] and the Pantherettes will be doing some dances there. Thursday is the Homecoming Parade, so everybody has to get out of class and be able to walk in the parade.”

The end of the week features some of the most highly anticipated events. Students can look forward to engaging performances all week long.

“Friday, we have practice that morning to get ready, and that night is the block party, so that’s another performance … Saturday is the game,” Lyons said. “We always show up four hours before the game to prepare.

 

The Pantherettes

The Pantherettes are Georgia State’s official dance team. They perform from football season through basketball season. They also perform for other sports teams, such as volleyball.

This year, the two captains are Tessa Novak and Jasmine Woods.

“This is my third year [being a Pantherette]. I’m a junior; I started as a freshman,” Novak said.

Despite the hard work it takes to be a dancer for Georgia State, the captains find that dancing in college is an experience worth coming back to year after year.

“This is my fourth year on the team. I just love to dance,” Woods said. “Our team is like a sisterhood. Most of these girls are my best friends. Being a part of this program has helped me grow as a person.” 

The girls expressed plenty of excitement about their part in the homecoming festivities.

“We’re an important part [of homecoming] because we pump up the students. We get them excited [for homecoming]. Novak said.

“We get really involved in all of the events [like] the parade, the pep rallies, the games,” Woods said.

 

Cheer

There are two cheer teams: co-ed and all-girl. Like the Pantherettes, they practice and have weight training twice a week. They will be at the same events as the dancers this week. The Signal reached out to the captains and haven’t received a response.

 

Bring the Spirit

If Panthers are looking for an opportunity to show off their school spirit, this is the perfect week to do so.

“Students, please come out and support your teams, cheerleaders, dancers and mascot,” Lyons said. “We just need your support.”

There are events for students to participate in all week leading up to the game on Saturday.

“I really encourage students to come to the game,” Novak said. “I think it’s a really good experience to have fun with your friends.”