Wichita State Shockers

United in spirit: Wichita State welcomes opponent’s lone cheerleader to join in

Loyola cheerleader Maddie Kenney, center top, joined Wichita State cheerleaders at timeouts during the Shockers’ 59-42 win over Loyola in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament Friday in St. Charles, Mo.
Loyola cheerleader Maddie Kenney, center top, joined Wichita State cheerleaders at timeouts during the Shockers’ 59-42 win over Loyola in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament Friday in St. Charles, Mo. Correspondent

Due to conflicts with midterms, the Loyola University cheer squad was able to send only one cheerleader, sophomore Maddie Kenney, to this week’s Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament in St. Charles.

When the Wichita State squad, which had a full complement of cheerleaders and yell leaders, found out before their teams met in Friday’s quarterfinals – a 59-42 Shocker victory – they immediately invited Kenney to cheer with them during timeouts.

“I totally thought they were kidding at first,” Kenney said. “Next thing I knew, I was in an extension.”

Kenney told them her story and how she had not actually been in the air since high school. Wichita State obliged and during a timeout in the first half, Kenney was raised in the air along with the rest of the Wichita State cheerleaders.

The Wichita State crowd roared its approval at the display of sportsmanship.

“If you get a bunch of cheerleaders in the same room together, eventually somebody is going to be flying through the air,” Wichita State cheer coach Kelli Rappard said. “That was really cool to see the crowd’s reaction. It was so sweet.”

For Kenney, it was a moment she said she will always remember.

“It was absolutely incredible and it really meant a lot to see the sportsmanship Wichita State displayed,” Kenney said. “It’s our job as cheerleaders to encourage and spread team spirit, so it’s really awesome we had the opportunity to do it together.”

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