Emerging into the 29 days of Black History Month, erupts the embodiment of a well-known collegiate sport and an African American cultural tradition onto the university’s Clubs & Organizations list, soon making history of its own.
Integrating into the campus community just this past week under the premise of a rhythmic style of cheerleading infused with a deep-rooted culture is the new up and coming organization, True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team.
Initiated by the likes of senior and Co-founder of the organization, Maya Young, senior and Vice President/Co-Captain, Melissa Harris, junior and Secretary, I’yana Cary, as well as by Adviser and Director of Residential Programs, Moe Bates, have collectively created a space that embraces culture one stomp at a time.
Engulfed with the perception of solely being attached to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), this 1970 cultural strain of cheerleading is comprised of various ranges of cheering, stomping, and shaking all in one. While capturing a historical essence behind it, the objective of the True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team are to be valuable to every student on campus, but in particular to every African American student on campus.
Vice President Harris stated, “It’s not just HBCU culture, it’s culture from African Americans.”
Priding upon this concept, the True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team is foreseen to bring the campus community more together than it already has, especially by its efforts to include a realm of individuals into an aspect within their culture, to not only respect but appreciate.
Contrary to popular belief, this Stomp and Shake team denounces the image of traditional cheerleading which holds the narrative of solely being accessible to skinny individuals. President Young proudly clarified, “With Stomp and Shake it comes from an African American background which was created for women and men who may not have that certain figure.”
Now, in terms of having prior experience, that is not necessarily a requirement for the organization, “This is a welcome for all organization, but we will be having tryouts, so I’m looking forward to seeing who comes out. Even though this is my senior year, I’m looking forward to helping build people," President Young said.
With a $65 membership that includes the uniform, two shirts (one for practice/one to wear regularly), and travel expenses, the organization is expected to recruit 20 individuals. Shortly thereafter, the organization will meet every Tuesday and Thursday and every other Friday at the prior time and location and stated.
Infused with cheer and dance, the organization will do as such in a performative manner at the university’s basketball games to expand their presence. Vice President Harris stated, “Of course we are starting from the ground but I believe we have so many people backing us, as we’ve spoken to the Athletics Department and they’re super excited to seeing something brought to the basketball games.”
Although the university already has a recognized dance team, the Blue Heat Dance Team, represented at their basketball games, the True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team are certainly bringing something they don’t have.
“My main goal is to bring energy to the court,” President Young stated. Harping on her athletic background, Young is very participative at our university’s basketball games, yet, as an attendee, she notices change could be had on the court. Young recounts a time last year when the university's basketball team played against Hampton University, “When Hampton cheerleaders would cheer it’s like our cheerleaders would stare at them—it’s like they were amazed at what they do.”
Concurrently meant to provide a sense of energy and expression, the True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team is representative of that in every which way, in which they plan to further in the future.
The first step in that process is to become an officially recognized campus organization. From there, the team will then hold tryouts.
In doing so, the organization has been met with a few upcoming projects, “A couple of organizations have already reached out to us such as NPHC for their step show in the spring, Lancer Production’s- Step Africa, and Longwood’s Got Talent,” said President Young.
With the intention to access beyond the whole campus community President Young continued, “Aside from basketball games, I know that Prince Edward County schools, in particular, have a Stomp and Shake team so I’m looking forward to doing a workshop with them.”
Priding the organization upon being accessible to the community, President Young revisited an inspirational message from a friend, “No matter what, make sure you stand your ground, you might have people who don’t approve of it because of where you are, but in the end, you’ll have a great outcome."
With its first meeting of 16 individuals, the True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team is a growing organization that is indefinitely creating a lasting outcome through a cultural tradition. For contact purposes please feel free to reach out to President Young at Maya.Young@live.longwood.edu.