Virginia Wesleyan University adds a new coed Cheer team and Men’s Volleyball team to the list of sports for the 2023-2024 season. This expands the number of sports at the school to 24 programs.
Cherrelle Artis will be the head coach of the new Cheer team, and her assistant will be Elise Fabregas. They are both alumni of the university.
Athletic Director Andrea Hoover-Erbig said of the new head coach, “She is a real go getter. She’s excited and enthusiastic and I think passionate about the cheer program and rebuilding the cheer program.”
The recruitment process for the team has been going well, with the coaches going with local talent. There will also be a tryout in the fall for students who already go to the school and would like to join the team.
If students are interested, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be a combined men’s and women’s team. The decision to add the Cheer team was intended to help expand the athletic department and offer more chances to have the students participate in sports.
The Cheer team will be competing and will start in 2024. Coach Artis hopes to compete down at Daytona, Florida where the main competition for collegiate level cheerleading is held.
To enter the Daytona competition, the team will need to get a “bid” from the competition, which means to gain a place in the competition.
Coach Atris said, “You have to have a bid to enter into that competition. So we’re going to be competing in some of those local competitions here. And also we can submit a routine to get a bid as well.”
The Cheer team will be cheering during both the Men and Women’s Basketball games and performing during half-time. They also hope to add more sports teams for the team to cheer for in their program in the coming years. The team will also participate in more than just sports events; they will make appearances at Alumni Weekends and Homecoming.
Coach Atris wants to get a big local community outreach on her own team, the school and the community around the university. It is important for her and the team to have a big outreach and be seen in the community.
Coach Artis said, “I think a camaraderie, that sense of bringing back that fun, that community, you know, seeing the seats filled at the games, seeing everybody just excited to go to the games.”
The Men’s Volleyball team will be coached by Karissa Cumberbatch, who coaches the Women’s Volleyball team. She will be coaching both teams next season. They have not named an assistant to help Coach Cumberbatch with the men’s team, but one has been picked.
Cumberbatch has coached Men’s Volleyball teams before, but this will be her first time as the head coach of a Men’s team. She is excited to get started and build the team.
“I’ve been recruiting coordinators and practice coaches and all of this, but I’ve never got to like just take it solely under my wing and make it my own, so I’m excited to do that for sure,” Cumberbatch said.
Six men have already committed to the team for next year. The goal set for the number of players was six to eight.
“I think she feels pretty confident that she can meet or exceed that goal. That’s exciting,” Hoover-Erbig said.
Men’s Volleyball is a growing sport in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). The VWU team will be joined by Eastern Mennonite, Randolph Macon, Roanoke and Randolph.
On Feb. 1st, Averett University announced their plan to add Men’s Volleyball to their list of sports for the 2023-2024 academic year. With there being six schools with programs it now means that the ODAC can host a conference tournament.
The main difference between men’s and women’s volleyball is the height of the net, other than that the equipment for both teams is the same. There is also a difference in the plays for men and women, with men’s teams typically being more offensive.
When asked if she was concerned about the workload, Cumberbatch said, “It’s just that now I can focus on Virginia Wesleyan and the place that I love and making this something special instead of building it elsewhere.”
There is no set amount of games the men’s team will have to play. The plan is to play twenty games next season. The women’s team in the previous season played thirty games. There are a few weeks of overlap with both teams, but the men’s team will mostly play in the spring, with the Women’s team playing in the fall.
In her ending point, Cumberbatch said, “I want to reach out to those who aren’t playing sports and figure out what it is about how do we get them in the seats? You know, so that’s what I would like to focus on in the next two years getting more kids in the stands.”
By MK Morris Larkin