Matt Coffman, a senior cheerleader, is already planning to come back to Bloomington next fall for Homecoming.
He remembers his sophomore year at IU when two of of his friends on IU's Crimson all-girl cheerleading team returned after graduating the previous year. They stayed at his house and made him even more excited for when he could “come home to IU” after graduating.
“It’s always fun to see how the campus comes alive with all the traditions we’re passionate about,” Coffman said.
Coffman said IU's cheerleading teams try to deliver the best experience at every event they attend, and Homecoming is no different. Both the Cream squad, which is co-ed, and the Crimson team cheer during football games and try to hype up the crowd.
Even though the teams’ preparation doesn’t change much in the week before the Homecoming parade and game, Coffman said it’s even more important during this week to deliver the spirit of IU to the fans and alumni.
IU cheerleading Coach Julie Horine said the teams remain consistent in the amount of preparation they put into each game.
“We’re like the football team,” she said. “You get out there, you do what you have to do, and our goal is to get them to win.”
Senior Alaina Delgado grew up in Naperville, Illinois, and said she did not know a lot about Bloomington before coming here. During her first Homecoming week, she said she enjoyed seeing everyone come together at the parade.
“It was really cool to feel like you were part of a family your freshman year,” she said.
Delgado took a year off from cheerleading during her junior year before returning this year to join the Crimson team as a senior. In her year off, she got to attend her first tailgates while not in uniform and experience Homecoming as a regular student.
She said both as a student and a cheerleader, the Homecoming week atmosphere is unreal because everyone is so friendly and involved in Hoosier spirit.
During Homecoming week, the cheerleaders are scheduled to appear at different events. They walk in the Homecoming parade on Friday and participate in the game on Saturday.
The cheerleading teams will arrive Saturday three hours before kickoff. They will be part of "The Walk" with the IU football team and will make an appearance at the IU Alumni Association building, as well as other tailgates.
The teams have their own tailgate for friends and family, too.
For this year’s game, the teams have been working on new stunts and structures to show off in the stadium.
At the beginning of the year, before an earlier IU football game was canceled and a new game scheduled for last Saturday, the Homecoming game was planned as the only IU football game in Bloomington in October. Because of this, the game was used as a benchmark for the teams to show off new stunts and structures.
More than anything, though, Horine said she wants her cheerleaders to embody the spirit and tradition of IU athletics for others and for themselves.
“I don’t want them to come here just to cheer,” Horine said. “I want them to come to cheer, but I want them to come and cheer, and I want them to want to be a Hoosier.”
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.