"Raving Fan" and "Rookie of the Year" Awards May Lead to Jobs for Sterling College AT Students
Though the "Raving Fan Award" sounds like a recognition given at a high school pep rally, it is actually an award given by the Varsity Spirit Corporation, one of the premier cheerleading camp companies in the nation. College senior Jonathon Lovercamp, one of several Sterling College athletic training majors who interned for Varsity Spirit this past summer, was nominated for this award. It is such a well-known honor in athletic training that he may list his "Raving Fan" nomination on his résumé, and it might be the very thing that lands him a job.
Varsity Spirit Corporation organizes and manages high school cheer/dance camps and televised cheer/dance competitions at colleges and universities across the country. This past year more than 400,000 high school students participated in VSC cheer camps, and 40,000 attended dance camps. VSC is the only cheer/dance camp company to have its own first aid staff, and for the past seven years, Sterling College athletic training students have been welcome and consistent members of that staff; the thirteen SC students employed by VSC this past summer worked an average of eight camps each.
Sterling's association with VSC was formed through Pete Manely, who is chair of Sterling's athletic training department and a fifteen-year veteran at VSC. Manely himself interned with Varsity Spirit when he was a junior in college; now he spends his summers training all the interns for the company. Through the years he has formed more than 900 professional connections, and he uses these for the good of Sterling College. Four of Manely's athletic training staff members were hired through VSC connections, and every year Manely helps SC athletic training students get internships, jobs and graduate assistant positions.
"It's not just my connections, though," Manely said. "Sterling College students have a good reputation at VSC. They've made Sterling College look good; they've made themselves look good." This is clear in the responsibility SC students are given at VSC camps. Kyle Berry, a junior at SC this year, worked at 13 camps this past summer. He was camp manager for nine of them. More proof of that good reputation is seen in the awards Varsity Spirit gives its summer employees based on their previous season's work; in 2009 Sterling College had almost a clean sweep of two of the regions' awards. In the Southwest region Renee Swisher won the Rookie of the Year award, and Pete Manely won both the Raving Fan and the Veteran of the Year. In the Midwest region Michelle Crocker won Rookie of the Year; Erin Laudermilk won Raving Fan; and Jonathon Lovercamp was a nominee for Raving Fan. "These awards are given based on evaluations from each camp as well as from comments made by peers and campers. They're a big deal in the company," said Manely. "SC had seven rookies working at camps this past year, and all of them will be up for next year's Rookie Award."
A good reputation with VSC extends outside the corporation. Season Graves '06, a former intern at VSC, is now the head athletic trainer at a college in Laredo, Texas. Her supervisor there works for Varsity Spirit. Jeremy Emmons '08 worked a VSC camp at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, met the university athletic training staff, and now works with them as a graduate assistant. Matt Meredith '07 got his graduate assistant position at Baylor University because Baylor's head athletic trainer knows Pete Manely, and Manely recommended Meredith to him. Meredith just finished his program and has been hired as a medical sales representative for a total joints replacement company in Texas.
"We're seeing great results from the athletic training program," said Dr. Troy Peters, Sterling's Vice President for Academic Affairs. "AT students had a 100% pass rate on the Board of Certification Exam this past school year, and Sterling had the most students out of all the NAIA schools in Kansas win the Kansas Athletic Training Society's Scholar award."
"We learn a lot from each other in the AT department," said junior Kyle Berry. "We're like a big family with members who work together and help each other succeed. I believe this skill of teamwork, practiced in real-life settings, puts all of us ahead of the game for the future."