Rickey Hill guides the cheer and dance teams

Brian Wollitz

After getting hired in mid-summer, Rickey Hill, head coach of the cheer and dance teams, didn’t know what to expect, but both teams quickly impressed him with their progress in the program’s inaugural year.

Hill stepped into the head coaching job with the responsibility of spearheading the program and has never built the program from the ground up, but has extensive experience at the position. Hill has spent time as a coach at Methodist University, James Madison University, Virginia Tech University, the University of Virginia and Winthrop University before coming to Loyola.

“I didn’t have any expectations. I didn’t recruit these kids. I didn’t know them. The first day I met them was my second day of work here. I had no clue what to expect and I went into it blind as a bat. I just relied on my past coaching experience,” Hill said.

Hill encountered struggles in the early stages of the process, like getting uniforms, practice gear, and dealing with inconsistent numbers to teaching the athletes the proper techniques the way he wanted.

As the season progressed, Hill solidified both rosters, with 12 members on the cheer team and six on the dance team.

“Once we got back around mid-January that’s when they really started to gel as a team and really started to bond,” Hill said.

At the end of January, both teams got to showcase their skills in their first events, as the cheer team took home a victory against the University of Mobile and the dance team won the conference championships at Brenau University.

Finance junior, Monica Fisher said the dance team had to work through challenges, but they came together and their work paid off.

“I feel as if we have all grown together. In the beginning it was very chaotic but things got better throughout the year,” said Fisher. “We were so proud and excited to come home with the championship title after our first competition. Our hard work paid off and it was an incredible feeling.”

Fisher also attributed a lot of the dance team’s success to assistant coach Rachel Turner.

“Rachel is our dance expert and she has guided us through all of our practices. She’s hard on us when we doubt ourselves, because she knows our true potential. Without Rachel our competition routine would not have been first place material,” Fisher said.

Jamie Alegria, biology senior, was the lone senior on either team this season and said that without Hill’s help, the program could not have accomplished some of their different goals.

“Coach Hill is the essential part of this program. I strongly believe we would have not achieved as much as we did this year without him. I have a lot of respect for Coach Hill and what he does for our teams and that is why I am so confident that both of these teams will excel in the future,”

With their recent success, Hill hopes by next spring to have both teams win their conference and compete at the National Cheer Association and National Dance Alliance Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“Its probably the largest cheer and dance championship in the country. That’s where the big boys go. Im hoping that’s something that well be able to accomplish next year,” Hill said.

Under Hill’s guidance, Alegria believes that the teams can reach some of those goals that Hill has set.

“I am excited to see how this program will continue to develop and am extremely confident that it will excel throughout the years. I believe that in the future this team is capable of accomplishing a lot in next couple of years. I am very proud to have been a part of this team,” Alegria said.

After stepping in and assuming many different roles, Hill is excited to see what is in store for next year and what the potential of the program can be.

Its taken me some time to get used to things here and all the different hats that I’m wearing. I coach, recruit, and fundraise. I’m a mom, I’m a dad, I’m a counselor. It’s a lot to take in,” Hill said. “Im looking to expand but its going to take a couple years and some hard work, sacrifices, a little bit of stress here and there, but I see great things in the future for this program.