The Harbinger Online

Meet the New Cheer Coaches

The cheer program will be making changes to their coaching staff and competition team for next year. There will be new coaches for varsity, junior varsity and freshman team, as well as adding the new position program supervisor. It will be filled by former varsity coach and English teacher, Mallory Gaunce.

The new coaches are Janet Loos, who will be the varsity head coach, Lacy Ritzman as the junior varsity coach and Stephanie Cunningham as the freshman squad coach.

Gaunce’s new position, however, will not include any game-time exposure, like the other coaches will have. Her position entails managing the logistics of the teams including financial budgeting, running the Booster Board events, overseeing inventory, running the social media accounts and other jobs like sending out email updates to the parents.

“[The new position] is basically all of the back-end processes that I already did while coaching,” Gaunce said. “And I’m really glad I can fulfill it because I love that the girls will still have someone in the building to come to.”

These changes were brought about due to the workload that was not evenly distributed between the coaches. AP English classes mixed with the high stress of the organization of teams made it hard for Gaunce to give her full attention to both, let alone just one. With the new change, she is now able to stay affiliated with the team as well as teach her classes without the same stress level that she has felt the past couple years.

Varsity captain junior Anna McClelland explains that she has already noticed some key changes as far as coaching strategies and styles. According to McClelland, Loos’s style differs in that she is more focused on the technicalities of routines, while Gaunce’s style was making running routines, but a little bit more casual. McClelland also thinks that the new coaches are already showing dedication and enthusiasm to their new positions.

“[Gaunce] was your friend first, coach second, while [Loos] is your coach first and friend second,” McClelland said. “Both methods have their unique pros and cons, but just the juxtaposition of their styles will be a positive dynamic.”

With Gaunce’s new position created, the job of the varsity coach is also not as demanding as it used to be. Loos feels that she will be able to fulfill the position well with her background as a high school cheerleader in SMSD and later in college. Loos was also a Chiefs cheerleader for a year, which she feels will also help her to lead a successful team.

“I grew up going to South, so when looking for a coaching job, I was hoping to stay in the Shawnee Mission District with the same great tradition that I’ve always known,” Loos said.

Along with the changes to the coaching staff, there are minor changes also being made as far as competitions. For instance, the squad can only consist of exactly 30 girls to compete instead of 35 girls this past season.

There is also another competition being added to the squads agenda this year, which will not include the normal two minute routine they perform at pep assemblies. Instead, the focus will be on “game-day” cheers including the school fight song and sideline cheer that are previewed at games. The new competition they will compete in is also different in the way that admission is not talent-based like the competitions the team is used to entering, but solely a “first-come, first serve” sign-up format.

Though the changes are occurring, the girls still feel like the program will be a smooth changeover and that they will still have a friend to look to.

“I appreciate that [Gaunce] will still be involved in the program, so that there’s a swift transition between leaders,” McClelland said. “The new coaches will have someone to show them the ropes and help them understand the little idiosyncrasies of our program.”


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