Central Christian College of Kansas is celebrating cheerleading coming to campus at its 2019 Hall of Fame Inductions and 75 Year Athletics Anniversary Celebration on Feb. 16.

CCCK Chair of the Business Department and Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. David Ferrell said several former cheerleaders will be introduced and highlighted at the event.

"Central was a bit late in adding basketball as a sport," Ferrell said. "I know that some of the other four-year schools around had already started (basketball)."

None of the Free Methodist Church-affiliated colleges were allowed to have intercollegiate sports until 1943, when a delegation from CCCK was granted permission from the General Conference.

"When basketball got started, cheerleading also got started," Ferrell said.

Beulah Hickey, Bonnie Wegley and Cleo Hayes were the original cheerleading team members for the 1943-44 academic year.

For over 15 years, members of the team cheered at basketball games that were played at the McPherson Community Building. In the early 1960s, the Ed Pyle Sports Complex opened on the CCCK campus and games began to be held there.

Ferrell's own father, John, was on the 1946-47 and 1947-48 CCCK cheerleading team.

"He was kind of one of those original yell leaders before it was popular to be a yell leader," Ferrell said.

Sherri Ulsaker Horun started cheering in junior high and continued when she become a third-generation student at CCCK.

"It's just something I always enjoyed doing," Horun said.

Attending a smaller college gave Horun the chance to let her athleticism shine and she participated not only in cheerleading, but also played volleyball and basketball.

"Most of the girls who were involved in cheerleading were also involved in sports or music, so we were a pretty close-knit group," Horun said.

Horun recalled the camaraderie built from traveling to away games and a basketball tournament in Newton that took place the weekend of Thanksgiving.

"We just had a good time. We were family, in essence," Horun said. "...Someone always had your back and it was kind of nice."

The CCCK cheerleading team started their competitive career in 2005.

In 2006, the team, coached by Rochelle Wissehr, took first place at their second outing, the Sunflower Classic Cheer and Dance Competition held at Cloud County Community College in Concordia. Cheerleaders Melissa Kantola, Lindsey Wood, Quin'Sondra Lawrence, Lisa Esquivel, Kristen Walker and Stephanie Reynolds also earned awards for spirit and energy, best choreography and best technique.

Having cheerleaders at games aids in keeping the crowd focused on responding to the action.

"It brings more enthusiasm and festivity to the game," Ferrell said. "Cheerleaders can help direct that positive energy for the students and make sure they don't fall asleep and go quiet when things turn sour for your team."

The team now cheers at both men's and women's basketball games along with competing up to 10 times per year. Students involved in cheer can receive scholarships.

For more information and to register, go to CCCKFoundation.org

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.