Together in Spirit

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This story originally appeared in the 2020 Annual Report

The COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 meant that many of our sporting Clubs had to adapt their activities for an online platform. The Melbourne University Cheer and Dance Club (MUDC) rose to this challenge, keeping training going over Zoom to make sure that the team spirit never dwindled.

At the beginning of 2020, the Club had grown to have over 100 athletes, who competed not just in Cheerleading, but other disciplines, including Pom, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Lyrical. While the Club competes in both local competitions as well as travelling interstate, they say that the best part of MUDC has always been the friendships formed, helped along by a full social calendar including BBQ’s and a Ball held jointly with RMIT Cheerleading Club.

With restrictions putting a dampener on these in-person events, MUDC transitioned their classes onto Zoom, where members could come together to stretch, keep fit, learn choreography and improve their skills. MUDC President, Sienna Montalti, cites the ability of the coaching team to adapt to a new platform all while coming up with new ways to challenge their athletes at home as a key driver of their online success.

“The coaches really were the heroes of the year in being able to keep the weekly trainings interesting and help everyone stay motivated.”

In addition to the online classes, MUDC members had social Zoom hangouts, movie sessions, and video challenges to get to know each other, and get much needed social interaction.

“Incorporating team bonding into these sessions really helped because most of the athletes didn't know each other and we find in any year that the key to athlete retention is forming social bonds,” Sienna continues.

“For many first years, it was the main form of social interaction they had with fellow Melbourne University students and with a lot of classes continuing online in 2021 many athletes have said that their MUCD friends are some of their only Uni friends.”

A strong online program has given MUDC an edge over rival clubs, by providing unique opportunities to be coached by Cheer and Dance experts from the United States. The social bonds formed were crucial for athlete retention, ensuring that the Club had enough members to compete at the first events held since the pandemic began, something other University Clubs were not able to do.

Club President Sienna Montalti says that being active online has helped Club members transition back to in-person events and training.

“At the end of the year when restrictions began to ease, we also hosted a club picnic and an end of year party to allow people to socialise in real life,”

“This really helped solidify the friendships formed online and meant that we had a lot of returning athletes who felt they already had a strong connection to the club.”