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Spirit Support: Bringing extra Pride to Hofstra

The pep band plays at soccer games, basketball games and other university events throughout the year. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Filippone)

As basketball season quickly approaches, three other Hofstra teams are gearing up for the season: spirit support. Spirit support is comprised of three teams: the pep band, the dance team and the cheer team. Each team attends every men’s and women’s basketball game, their job is not only to offer support to the Hofstra Pride but also to pump up and entertain the crowd from the sidelines.

Each spirit support team was at Midnight Madness to kick off basketball season. “At midnight madness, the dance team, the women’s basketball team and the men’s basketball team ... we actually put on a little dance,” said one of the three dance team captains, Marissa Speciale, “It was nice to bond with them and get excited.”

But the teams don’t limit themselves to just basketball. Back in September during the first presidential debate, all three groups could be spotted in Broadcast Plaza performing for various news networks. “We made a lot of appearances, we did some promotional videos ... it was a really crazy day,” said Danielle Gresalfi, a graduate student and fifth year cheer team member.

Cheer, dance and the pep band can also be found at various community events, both participating and performing. Many of these volunteer events have become traditions for the teams, like the Polar Plunge for the cheer team. “We always do it in November ... it’s freezing but it’s for a good cause, the Special Olympics. It’s always a good team bonder for us,” Gresalfi said.

The pep band frequents many charity walks, attending five so far this year. “Doing things like that are really important to us because even though our main skill is playing music, we like to find ways we can not only contribute to the Hofstra community but the local community as well,” said pep band managerial captain Jared Keyes.

They hope to expand their volunteer work in the coming years as well. “A lot of people have reached out to us because they know that we like to do these kind of things ... we’re looking to take more initiative in fundraising for different charities,” Keyes said.

“What people don’t realize is the amount of work we not only put into the team but for people outside of the team. We support other people; we help other people,” Dominique Calabro, another dance team captain, said. The dance team volunteered at an ALS walk earlier in the year.

“One of my favorites we do every year is the ALS Walk. We help warm up the walkers ... and then we cheer them on as they walk through and then cheer them on as they walk across the finish line,” said Danielle Bradle, a graduate student and dance team captain.

The cheer and dance teams continue their seasons past basketball. In January, national competitions for both teams are held in Orlando, Florida. Both teams are nationally ranked amongst other competitive teams. “We’re very competitive,” Gresalfi said.

Hofstra’s cheerleaders and dance team members pump up the crowd at Midnight Madness. (Photo courtesy of Hofstra Athletics)

The cheer team earned first place the past two years at UCA nationals and ranked first place eight other times in the past 13 years. They also took home first place worldwide as the 2016 World University small co-ed championship.

Last year, the dance team came in first place not only nationally, but worldwide as the U.S. National team as well. “Instead of just teams across the U.S., it was teams worldwide,” Speciale said. “So that was a really cool experience, something that has never happened before for Hofstra.”

Spirit support also serves as a home away from home for most of its members. “You go through your four years, in my case five years, of college with your biggest support system being your team which is like a family,” Bradle said.

Keyes described the pep band as the greatest experience he’s had at Hofstra. “A lot of my friends are the people who are in the band,” he said. “It’s good quality time that I honestly enjoy.”

Across the board, spirit support members agree that their school pride is one of the most important traits to have. “It’s going to sound cheesy, but it takes Hofstra Pride,” Keyes said. Gresalfi agreed saying it takes “a lot of school pride, I think is one of the biggest things.” Calabro added, “being on a team is huge for me ... it means a lot to me to be able to support my school.”

And all three teams hope to see a little more Hofstra spirit from the student body this upcoming basketball season. “It’s always more fun to have a big crowd with us,” Gresalfi said. “It makes the games so much more exciting when they’re there,” Speciale added. They want to see a lot of pep coming from the student section, not only for them but for the athletes on the court as well.

Keyes emphasized support for the athletes saying, “Both teams are really good and I think they deserve it.”

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