As Iona College sophomore Jasmine Temple stepped in the batter’s box during the softball team’s extra inning matchup against Rider on April 8, she started hearing her teammates cheering endlessly from the dugout.
The Gaels undeniable energy and rambunctious cheers sparked a ninth inning walk-off home run by Temple to beat Rider 2-1.
“When you hear your teammates in the dugout, it lights a fire off inside,” Temple said after the game.
Over the past few years, the Gaels have proved that their identity is more than just solid pitching. It’s their team spirit and dugout energy, that matches what they display on the field.
“It’s been Iona’s identity since I’ve been here,” head coach Melissa Inouye said. “They rely on getting energy from the dugout. It’s like a home crowd.”
If you ever had the opportunity to attend an Iona softball game, you witnessed the Gaels perform various cheers from the dugout. One player would start a cheer, then the rest of the team tags along. The Gaels are so coordinated and on point with each cheer that it makes you question: When do they have time to work on them?
“We practice in the preseason,” Temple said. “But a lot of it is off the top of our head.”
From the Gaels leadoff cheer to their battle cheer, they based each chant on various songs or rhythms. It’s something the players are accustomed to due to years of playing softball.
“Also growing up through softball, you’ve been doing cheers since 10 and under,” sophomore pitcher Marnie Skinner said.
For Iona to be on point with each cheer, it takes a couple of mistakes before everyone catches on.
“Someone would make one up and the first or second time it would be kind of rough,” Skinner said. “Then everyone gets it.”
Incoming freshmen get a taste of Iona’s dugout rituals when they visit the team during the fall and spring. By time they officially join the team, they know what to expect.
“You get a taste of it as an incoming freshman if you come watch us play in the fall and spring,” Inouye said.
Inouye credits the team for keeping the energy flowing despite not having former student manager Lauren Filardi, who led the Gaels’ dugout routines last season.
“It’s a big part of their energy,” Inouye said. “We miss our former manager Lauren Filardi for leading all of that, but the torch has been passed.”
Iona will look to use that energy and spirit to make a push at a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title in May.
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