GV Club Pompon returns to the Griffins for season opener


Courtesy / GV Pompon Facebook

Holly Bihlman, Sports Editor

For the first time in over a year, the Grand Valley State University club pompon team took over the Jumbotron at Van Andel arena after the first period of the Griffins’ season opener game to perform in front of a packed house this past Friday, Oct. 15.

The sport of pompon is a blended version of cheer, dance and stunt work, and the GVSU team recruits from all of these angles for incoming freshman, transforming them into what pompon is all about.

“It’s a very particular kind of sport,” said coach Keirsten Lone. “Our primary things are using the colors of our poms to be aesthetically pleasing to the audience, so we do a lot of things with two different colors to make it interesting. We do a kick line, we do the normal jumps that you’d see in cheer, and a little bit of stunting.”

On Friday, the team was sporting blue and white poms with a routine that included all of the impressive elements that make for a fantastic visual show. With only two seniors on the team, no juniors and a significant number of underclassmen, the show was a first for the majority of the team.

Last year, the team had the opportunity unlike a lot of other sports teams to compete in all the same events that they usually do, but virtually. The Mid American High Kick Championships that take place in the fall, the Mid American Pompon State Championships in the winter, and the Dance Team Union competition were all events that allowed virtual submissions during COVID-19. For the Lakers’ first time competing in the Dance Team Union Championships last year, they brought home first place.

“This is our first performance back in front of a live crowd, and I know for me at least it was really nerve-wracking,” said senior President Sarah McBain. “I’ve been doing this my whole life but this one especially I was very nervous for because it’s just been so long since I’ve had this live audience feeling. Definitely good to be back.”

Out of only 14 members of the team, half of them are freshman, leaving McBain and her only other upperclassmen companion, Sara Moore, to lead the way. Considering the pressure of a practically sold-out Van Andel Arena, the team’s routine went swimmingly.

“The attitude is such a positive attitude overall,” Lone said. “Everyone’s happy to be at practice, everyone’s happy to be at pom; it’s just so nice to have a happy team. It’s the season opener, the Griffins haven’t played in however long, so having a packed house is just really exciting for everyone and to have the cheers again.”

Next up for the club pompon team is the GVSU football homecoming game halftime show where the Lakers will play Michigan Tech University on Oct. 30 at Lubbers Stadium. The team is already practicing for their routine at the end of the month for their annual appearance until they begin practicing for the High Kick Championships on Nov. 7.

“Our style of pom is very different from pom around the United States,” Lone said. “It’s localized to Michigan so there’s not a lot of high school teams to pull from, we can’t do clinics, we can’t recruit in that way, so we take a lot of cheerleaders, dancers, and we convert them into our style.”

The team hosts tryouts in April each year, and since they’re only graduating two seniors with no one to succeed their senior spots, they’re looking for lots of new talent to bring to the team next year.

“I honestly think that all things considered, our team this year has a really good dynamic,” McBain said. “We’re really bonded for the circumstances, and I think everyone’s just really excited that we’re able to be here together.”