MC Spirit bids farewell to founding coach and looks ahead to bright future as the season ends

Members+and+friends+of+the+MC+Spirit+squad+listen+to+Interim+President+Julius+Sokenu+congratulate+them+on+a+successful+year%2C+during+their+banquet+on+Wednesday%2C+March+11.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt

Members and friends of the MC Spirit squad listen to Interim President Julius Sokenu congratulate them on a successful year, during their banquet on Wednesday, March 11. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Whitney Bussell

Wednesday evening, Moorpark College Spirit held their 4th annual spring banquet at the Moorpark Country Club. Members of MC Spirit, family and faculty all came together to celebrate the team’s hard work throughout the year.

The event was kicked off by Head Coach and founder of MC Spirit, Kelsey Stuart. Following Stuart was Moorpark College Interim President Julius Sokenu, who congratulated the team on yet another great year.

As tables were called up to eat in a buffet style fashion, a slideshow of the team’s year played in the background, leading the squad into laughter as they reminisced on a year of memories.

Interim President Julius Sokenu addresses the achievements of the MC Spirit squad on Wednesday, March 11 at the Moorpark Country Club. Sokenu noted watching Head Coach Kelsey Stuart rise to the occasion of leading the program.
Interim President Julius Sokenu addresses the achievements of the MC Spirit squad on Wednesday, March 11 at the Moorpark Country Club. Sokenu noted watching Head Coach Kelsey Stuart rise to the occasion of leading the program. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Dance Director, Beth Megill teaches Jazz Dance, a requirement of all MC Spirit members to join the team. Megill stepped to the podium to discuss her involvement in the program and the growth that she has witnessed in the team.

“You guys are really the forerunners for what this is going to be and you’re shaping it for its future. So you should feel extremely proud for paving the way in this program,” Megill stated.

MC Spirit is currently in the final stages of approval for what will soon be a curriculum at Moorpark College. Stuart founded the program in 2016 and was able to nourish it from its beginning days to what will now be a full certification.

“It grew from nothing to now it’s going to be a curriculum … this is the only curriculum that’s in the state of California. It’s called Commercial Dance and it’s under MC Spirit, so it’s dance and cheer,” Stuart explained.

Head Coach of the MC Spirit squad Kelsey Stuart congratulates her team of girls during their banquet at the Moorpark Country Club on Wednesday, March 11. Stuart has now stepped down as the the program head.
Head Coach of the MC Spirit squad Kelsey Stuart congratulates her team of girls during their banquet at the Moorpark Country Club on Wednesday, March 11. Stuart has now stepped down as the the program's head coach. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Cheer captain Erica Felder and co-captain Rebecca Lee assisted in presenting awards to first-year and returning Raiders. Following the awards ceremony, both captains delivered speeches on the three years they had spent with MC Spirit.

Felder encouraged future returning Raiders with motivation as she delivered her final speech.

“Don’t get discouraged with yourself and always work hard because you are something to this team and without you we wouldn’t be able to have one,” Felder emphasized.

Co-captain Erica Felder
Co-captain Erica Felder recalls her favorite moments from her time in the MC Spirit squad during the team's banquet at the Moorpark Country Club on Wednesday, March 11. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Lee was next to deliver her final speech but the tears came quickly flowing as she reminisced on the bonds she had created with her team.

“I have left coming to practice everyday, even on the most stressful days because it meant that I got to see all my best friends, my cheer sisters,” Lee expressed as the tears streamed down her face.

This was a team with deep rooted bonds. A group of women willing to put in the hard work necessary to provide what was needed, school spirit. More than just a hobby, MC Spirit required hard work and dedication from each member.

In reference to the naysayers that only look at cheer as a hobby, Megill commented, “what they produce is anything but hobby worthy.”

Cori Galante, first year student and member of MC Spirit shared how joining the team helped her grow in a new chapter of life.

“It helped me to meet a lot of people, become more comfortable with myself, especially going to college for the first time. It helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be,” Galante stated.

Dedication was the motto of many team members but Brenda “Gigi” Rodriguez went above and beyond to be a member of MC Spirit. Rodriguez lives in Santa Barbara and commutes one hour each way to attend the the MC Spirit Jazz Dance class along with practices and games throughout the week.

As MC Spirit prepares to become the first curriculum of its kind in the state of California, Stuart is also bidding the program farewell as head coach. Stuart will remain both a mentor and an advocate to the program she founded.

When asked why Stuart held a banquet for MC Spirit each year her response was characteristic of a leader looking to guide young women in the right direction.

“I have always fought to have a banquet because the girls get zero notice for all that they do and it’s pivotal for their personal and professional development as young women to be acknowledged for all their hard work,” Stuart expressed.

MC Spirit has postponed its clinic and tryouts until after spring break due to VCCCD going virtual amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information on MC Spirit and when the new dates for both the clinic and tryouts will be, visit the team’s Instagram.