October 11, 2012

Roadrunners hire coach for cheer program

By Devin Golden
devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

— Dalton State College athletic director Derek Waugh wanted a second head coach with local ties to join the Roadrunners.

He got his wish.

Dalton State College has named Robyn Newell, a Rossville native, the school’s competitive cheerleading coach. She and Waugh came to an agreement last week, and she will officially begin her part-time duties Monday.

“I am very excited,” said Newell, a 2006 graduate of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High. “I’ve been involved in cheerleading, tumbling and gymnastics both recreationally and competitively since my childhood.”

Waugh, the school’s athletic director, was hired in February as part of a relaunching of Roadrunner athletics. He specified men’s basketball as the top priority and other sports — tennis, volleyball, cross country and baseball — as planned to come as soon as next school year. Competitive cheerleading was not in Waugh’s initial sights, but that changed.

“Even though the cheer program was something not necessarily the No. 1 priority as I came in, as I started to see the interest in the area and what it can do for a college athletic program — and the enthusiasm of the school itself — I felt like it was something we had to have,” he said. “I think Robyn is a great person to get this started for us, and I’m sure she’ll do an amazing job.”

Waugh said the applicant pool was limited to just five people, in part due to wanting someone from the nearby area. Newell, 24, has 13 years of experience coaching and training in competitive cheerleading, gymnastics and tumbling. She recently worked at Jill’s Gymnastics in Rossville doing private sessions and team training. This will be her first coaching gig.

“Being able to see a squad from the ground up will be exciting,” Newell said. “Dalton State has an appeal anyway to the academic programs they offer, so them starting an athletic program here is huge.”

She also will be associated with Dalton’s Creative Arts Guild Gymnasium as part of a partnership with the Roadrunners athletic department, according to the release announcing her hire.

“The details haven’t been totally worked out,” Waugh said when asked about what the partnership would entail.

The team will begin competing in the 2013-2014 school year. According to the release, the competitive cheer program will kick off with on-campus tryouts next spring. Newell will be recruiting men and women for the team.

In August, the department listed openings on the school’s website, careers.daltonstate.edu, for a women’s volleyball coach and men’s and women’s tennis coach. Dalton native Tony Ingle was introduced Aug. 2 as the new men’s basketball coach, and Richard Skeel started July 1 as the senior associate athletic director. He also is expected to be the baseball coach, but it is unknown when the institution will begin the sport.

Competitive cheer is “listed officially as an emerging sport in NAIA,” Waugh said. While it is only viewed outside the school as an extracurricular program, that could change.

“It is considered a sport, but it’s not considered one when you tally up the number of sports the school has,” Waugh said. “But from the people I’ve been talking to, that will change in a year or two.

“And right now it doesn’t count for Title IX purposes, but it will soon.”