USD Magazine Spring 2013


Things have changed since Delle Willett ’64 (left) was a cheerleader. Spirit Team Head Coach Amy Bodnar ’06 (right) points out it’s still about teamwork.

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Though styles have evolved, quest to f i re up Toreros remains the same FEELS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT

Frances Danz, then-president of the women’s college summoned the young women to her office to personally inspect their attire. That first squad of three wom- en and three men marked the start of an ongoing tradition. Variously named — cheer team, yell team, spirit team (and now including the university’s dance team) — these champions of school spirit have fired up Torero fans and athletes for generations. Willett looks back fondly on her time as a cheerleader. “It was fun being in front of people at the games, getting everyone excited, going on road trips,” she recalls. The one-sleeved mini dresses and infectious dance routines that characterize today’s spirit team dancers would never have passed muster five decades ago. But even after half a century, cheering for the Toreros is still fun. “It was really exciting right away,” says sophomore communications major Alexis Swanstrom, a spirit team member last year who now cheers for the San Diego Char- gers National Football League team. “And right away I made some of the greatest friends.” Last summer, Willett came up with the idea of organizing a spirit team alumni group to renew such friendships and enable former cheerleaders and dancers to boost school spirit once again.


by Sandra Millers Younger heerleaders. The word


Toreros cheerleading squad. “It was very low key. One of the boys did a back flip. The rest of our rou- tine was jumping, shaking our pompoms, cheers and chants.” The girls’ uniforms were equal- ly simple — blue, knee-length pleated skirts, topped by heavy white sweaters. Still, Mother

sand students, many of them nuns and seminarians who were divided into separate men’s and women’s campuses. “We tried out in the men’s cafeteria,” says former USD Alumni Board president Delle Willett ’64, who, as a sophomore in 1961– 1962 won a spot on an early

triggers images of beautiful young women who dazzle

sports fans with their intricate dance routines, eye-catching uni- forms and gravity-defying stunts. Not so 50 years ago at the University of San Diego, then a community of less than a thou-



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