December's Alumni Cheerleader/Dancer of the Month
NAME (MAIDEN NAME?): Gillian Jeffy (I have a hyphenated name now Gillian Jeffy-Anderson)
WHAT TEAM YOU WERE ON WITHIN THE SPIRIT SQUAD: The Golden Gopher Danceline!
WHAT YEARS DID YOU CHEER/DANCE: I danced from 1971 to 1977. I actually graduated in 1975 but I kept dancing for two more years! Back then, they never checked fee statements to see who was really a student and several of us took advantage of that!
SHARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOITE SPIRIT SQUAD MEMORIES: There are so MANY good memories, it’s hard to name them all. The best part is that so many of us are still VERY close friends. A number of us went on to form our own dance company after graduation - The Cosmopolitan Dancers - and we’ve been together as friends ever since our college days! Among my most favorite memories, though, are in conjunction with the major steps we were able to accomplish back when a danceline’ was not the most popular thing on campus. On the fun side, we had a BLAST dancing at the basketball games (Musselman’s pre-game show was awesome!) and, finally, at the football games (that took a few years of negotiation!). Even early Saturday morning practices at Williams Arena were fun! Campus Carni was the absolute BEST time in the spring.... oh, and selling gold cowboy hats at the hockey games (and everywhere else) as a fundraiser even that was fun! Back then, there were no sponsorships or funding for us, but Wendell Vandersluis, a U of M sports photographer, was our advisor and he helped us a great deal.
WHAT HAS YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE SPIRIT SQUAD DONE FOR YOU IN YOUR POST-COLLEGE LIFE: As I mentioned earlier, The Cosmopolitan Dancers would not have been a reality without the friendships formed in the Danceline. (We were pretty separate from the Cheerleaders and Goldie back then there was no combined Spirit Squad.)
We treasure our time together and talk about all the fun we had (...and still have!) The experiences during those years helped build confidence levels, leadership skills, athleticism, teamwork, appreciation for hard work, time management skills.... ahhh, the list is endless!
Naturally, the fun of coming back every year for Homecoming is fabulous! We hope more alumni join us.
I’ve been coming back as long as they’ve let us on the field!
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO CHEER/DANCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA WHEN YOU WERE IN COLLEGE: As a college freshman, I was fresh off a high school danceline (The Robinaires from Robbinsdale High School) and wanted to continue that great experience! When I found out there was NO Danceline at the U of M, a friend of mine (a Cooperette from Cooper High School) and I got together and began the process of starting one! A few months into the process, my friend found a flyer from two gals that were one step ahead of us and we joined up with them. The first year, 1971, there were only 12 of us! The two that actually started the line left the first year. By 1973, I was the only one who stuck with it from that first group!
APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE ON THE TEAM WHEN YOU WERE:
HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE SPIRIT SQUAD AS AN ALUMNI (IF YES, IN WHAT ASPECT): I’ve only been involved with Homecoming each year. Some years, we’ve done the end zone’ dance with the current team and it’s been GREAT to work with them. They are the most professional, courteous, polite, and talented young ladies! They always make us feel so welcome every year. And I can’t say enough about Amber Struzyk she’s amazing!
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE GOPHER SPIRIT SQUAD THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME? Each year, it’s been an absolute JOY to be a part of the Gopher Spirit Squad alumni. I’m so proud of what the whole organization has become over the years. Thinking back to the early 70’s and seeing what it is today, the journey has been incredible! Considering the talent and the commitment from all the members, I see a glorious future! Kudos to Beth Frees!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH US SOME THINGS ABOUT YOUR LIFE NOW (FOR INSTANCE DO YOU STILL LIVE IN MINNESOTA, DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN, WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OR WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?) Other than four years in California, I’ve lived in Minnesota. I love it here! My husband and I have one son, 21 a college Junior at Mankato. While he loves the U, Mankato was his first choice. We also have a dog (a Westie) & a cat.
Perhaps because of the early Danceline experience and the need to always be on the go’ and stay active, I don’t seem to have a lot of spare time! Outside of working fulltime (e-Learning Specialist), I race sailboats, ride a Harley, downhill ski in the winter and ride horses (friends’ horses now but I owned horses for 30 years)! I love to dance, walk, garden, and read and I seem to be involved in just about every reunion that comes along I chair my high school reunion; I coordinate my college/danceline reunions/U of M homecoming danceline alums; I coordinate the annual neighborhood Bar-B-Q and even do work reunions (was with one company for 21 years)! I’m also very involved in my church (Board of Fellowship, usher, greeter, etc.). Guess I have trouble saying NO!