Wes Wooley relished the opportunity to cheer for his alma mater and help others do the same.
Wooley has decided to step down as Hope College’s cheerleading coach after 19 seasons as head coach, six as an assistant coach and four as a Hope cheerleader himself.
“It’s been really cool to give back to the program that gave me so much,” Wooley said. “When I was here, cheerleading was a big part of my life. It was nice to give of myself something that really made a difference. If I could provide, in any small way, to even one of the cheerleaders that has come through, the experience I had, that would be a positive.”
Wooley has been Hope’s football and basketball cheerleading coach since 1996. He took after serving an assistant to program founder Maxine DeBruyn in 1990 and being a Hope cheerleader from 1986-89.
A search for a successor will begin immediately, Hope co-athletic director Tim Schoonveld said.
“We would like to thank Wes Wooley for all he has done for Hope College and our cheer program,” Schoonveld said. “He has been involved in our program as a student, an assistant and as head coach for almost 30 years and has obviously had a significant impact on many lives. We are grateful for all he has done and wish him the best moving forward.”
Wooley began his coaching career after hanging around practice following graduation and being asked by DeBruyn to become an assistant coach.
Wooley said he was motivated to help his cheerleaders enjoy their time as much as he did as a student.
“Cheerleading is their release. It’s what keeps them motivated,” Wooley said. “It was really rewarding for me to see people come in as cheerleaders, women who had done it for years and years or guys who had no thought of being a cheerleader until they came to college. Something clicked with them.
“Cheerleading is the same as any sport in Division III. Division III has people who aren’t looking to go to the pros. They want something to enrich their college experience.”
Wooley believes the time is right for a new coach because of the talent base that will comprise the 2015-16 squad.
There is a good group of returning veterans and a super-talented group of incoming freshmen, Wooley said.
“We’re fortunate to have had a foundation that was built by Maxine,” Wooley said. “It’s really unique for Division III to have the continuity of the program of the years.”
Wooley expressed appreciation to his wife, Nancy, and their children, Carissa and Connor, for their support throughout his coaching career.
“Nancy has been terrific in letting me do this as my hobby. It ended up taking over my life,” said Wooley, a freelance graphic designer. “Our kids fortunately have been Hope fans since before they knew what Hope College was. This is as good of a time as any to step down with the kids getting older.”