One on One with Tracy Lentz

Western Michigan University's cheer team head coach Tracy Lentz sat down with Broncos Illustrated recently. She talked about becoming the coach of the cheer team two years ago, about the difference of coaching male and female cheerleaders, about the success of the men's basketball team and hearing the student cheers at Lawson Arena.

She talks about how long she has been a cheerleading coach.

"I coached high school cheerleading for eleven years and this is my second year here at Western, so thirteen."

She tells us what school she came to Western Michigan from.

"I started coaching at Martin, I was there three years. Then when I graduated from Western I quit coaching and then I got back into it and I coach two years at Vicksburg. I spent six years at Portage Central before coming here."

She talks about her degree that she received from Western Michigan.

"I hold a degree and I am a student again. I have a Bachelors in Sociology and English and I am back working on my secondary teaching certification in English and Communications."

She talks about other interests that she pursues other than coaching the cheer team.

"I work at a hair salon, Continental Styling to supplement the income."

She talks about what made her choose pursue her education at Western Michigan.

"I'm local also. I grew up in Otsego so I have always been around the Kalamazoo area. Basically my parents told me I was coming to college here and they were paying so that limited the choice."

She tells us whether or not her parents went to WMU.

"I'm actually the first person on both sides of my family, immediate family, to have a Bachelors degree. So I'm the first person in the family to come here."

She talks about the time she has had since taking the coaching job two years ago.

"I enjoy being here. I enjoy being part of just like they said that it's the whole Athletic Department and the atmosphere before games and traveling. Coaching a college team is definitely a lot different than coaching a high school team and I feel like I'm starting my coaching career all over again. I'm searching for where I want to take this team."

She comments on coaching both male and female cheerleaders.

"I do and I think that sometimes it's difficult to coach male and female. I mean I'm used to having all girls and you can talk to girls one way and you kind of talk to the guys another way. When you have them all together what kind of works for the girls doesn't always work for the guys. So there's always a communication struggle on the team in trying to keep the waters smooth because sometimes the guys think things that I think they're just being guys and the girls are being girls and they get upset. It's like you know don't take them so seriously they're just trying to have some fun with you and for me I've never been around the partner stunting. So it's having to come in and learn something completely new again because the techniques and the grips are all different from how you are stuck with all girls."

She talks about her most memorable sporting event since she has been coaching the Broncos cheer team.

"Going to Cleveland was awesome last year being a part of the women's basketball team. It was so much fun traveling with them to California and I think that Coach Stewart and the girls on the team really they made us feel that we were part of their success. That's really important because I think we're an important part of the game we're an important part for the Athletic Department but sometimes it can feel like there's a big separation. So to be a part of their success and feel a part of it and that we actually contributed to it was really a fantastic experience for everybody."

She talks about traveling with the team to California last season.

"We traveled together, we were on the same buses, we were on the same plane, we stayed at the same hotel which in Cleveland we didn't stay with the basketball team we stayed separate. So we were separated from them but there they were just on a different floor and so we were constantly passing each other in the hotel as we were going to dinner and they were leaving for practices. It just felt like we were an extension of their team and it was really cool."

She comments on why the cheer leaders aren't used at the Broncos hockey games.

"We haven't been asked I don't know how well the girls and the guys skate either. (Laughing)"

Has she ever been to a Bronco hockey game?

"Yes. They love going to the hockey games. We're actually at the hockey games we're just not in uniform. I went to a couple of games last year because I had not been to a Bronco hockey game in probably ten years and the atmosphere at Lawson Arena is so much fun and I was there for the first time again at the Michigan game when we beat Michigan last year. They had been telling me all season long Coach you go to go hear these cheers at the hockey games. So we went and listened to the students cheer and they decided that probably I wouldn't be very happy with them if they were leading those kind of cheers on the sidelines."

Bronco hockey fans have some interesting cheers.

"They're interesting and I love them but yet it's probably not something appropriate for the Bronco cheer team to be doing."

She comments on the students fitting in with the hockey team just as much as the cheer team fitting in with the football and basketball teams.

"A lot of times these kids are trying to get out of here so that they can go watch the hockey team skate. So they're cheering one or two basketball games on a Saturday and then they're putting their stuff on and going over and standing in line to get tickets to go and watch the hockey game. They love being at hockey and they're cheering on the Broncos there too but we're just not organized. To be honest with you I don't know if you would want organized cheerleading over there because it's really crazy and I think it goes along with the atmosphere."

She talks about the preparations the cheerleaders make to be able to make it through back-to-back basketball games on a day like "Blackout Saturday."

"I think its part of what people don't see is the long hours on a double day when we have two basketball games to cheer. They're here an hour before the first game, they cheer that entire game and they're not done. They get a small break, usually I try to have something here for them to eat and they have to go back out and cheer a whole other game. Same thing during football, our days may start three hours before a football game because we have functions to go to or we go around to the tents and we meet people and we might do the fight song there. We might go perform at different tents and then we go warm up and then we cheer at the football game. We had two or three Saturday's this year where after cheering football and doing pregame over there we came over here and cheered for the volleyball team. So the dance team and the cheer team sometimes we were putting in twelve hour days and you could see the fatigue setting in on the kids. It's hard for me as a coach because I know they are giving it their all and they're tired but the fans don't always know what they have done before a game starts or they've cheered two or three events already that day."

She comments about the cheer team being apart of the men's basketball team's current run.

"It's really special. I just saw Coach Hawkins in an interview, this is really fun, I know I'm on the computer every single, when they're away from home it's like "what did the men's team do?" "What did the women's team do?" I'm making people call on the radio or watching ESPN to see the scores come through and the rankings coming through and its hard not to get excited right now. But on the other hand it's the beginning of January and it's a long way until March and you don't want to get your hopes up for something that might not happen. You don't want to jinx them at all. Kind of take it game by game but it's really fun to watch the guy's team have success and the only way to top last year at Cleveland would be to go ahead and have the men's and women's team win a MAC Championship this year. That would be awesome."

Broncos Illustrated Top Stories