News | March 16, 2018

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Student leaps at chance to cheer for Eagle athletics

After spending a year at Florida Gulf Coast University, Bailey Spenlau was thinking about transferring to another school. But something stopped her.

 

Instead, the junior from Tarpon Springs decided what she needed was to get involved in something she cared about.

 

“I’d always been an athlete,” she says, “but I never played one sport long enough to get picked up.”

 

Spenlau cheered in middle school and, although she stopped in high school, she kept up with her tumbling. When she heard about cheerleader tryouts at FGCU, she leaped at the chance — and twirled, flipped and cartwheeled, too.

 

“I decided to try out and made the team,” she says. “The experience has been awesome. There’s a team atmosphere, I’m part of a group and I’ve been able to make friends. I see them twice a week for practice, plus two games a week, so we spend a lot of time together. There are 32 of us. We’ve become a huge family.”

 

Her coach, Emily Chaikin, has this to say about Spenlau: “Bailey is a passionate individual. She is passionate on and off the court. She exudes confidence and leadership on the court and shares her passion with the Cheer Team, motivating them through long days and a very long season.”

 

But it’s not just on the court where Spenlau excels, Chaikin says.

 

“Bailey also has a passion for helping people. Last summer Bailey went on a mission trip to Debauche, Haiti, to volunteer at a school and church. She spent some of her time doing labor, teaching children, doing physical activities with the children, and enjoying some fun and games with them as well. She makes FGCU Cheerleading very proud to call her one of our own.”

 

Despite her rigorous schedule, Spenlau’s also involved with Ignite, a Christian ministry on campus, and enjoys powerboarding — although she doesn’t have a lot of time for that these days.

 

Recently accepted into the social work program, she is excited about her upcoming field experience with Lee County’s Department of Human Services.

 

Busy though she may be, there’s one thing she’s sure about: “I plan to continue cheering.”

What makes FGCU basketball so great?

Sure, it’s the players, but it’s more than that. It’s the coaches and the cheerleaders. It’s Azul and his hip moves. It’s the pep band and the Dancing E’Gals and, of course, the shouting, stamping, screaming, leaping Dirty Birds who ramp up the energy in the Nest. This is part of a series of profiles of some of those who put their hearts and souls into making Eagles basketball the force it has become.