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Bethel hires first cheer and dance coach

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – With competitive cheer and dance moving toward the rank of a recognized intercollegiate sport, Bethel College has hired its first cheer coach.

Jill Fenske, Valley Center, began in the half-time position Nov. 1.

She is a 2009 graduate of Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing and a minor in sociology. She is currently employed as charter sales manager for First Student of Wichita.

The number of varsity cheer and dance teams at colleges and universities associated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has grown significantly over the last several years. The NAIA currently recognizes cheer and dance as an “emerging sport” – any sport in which participating institutions follow all regulations but there is no national championship.

The NAIA is working toward being the first collegiate organization to offer competitive cheer and dance as a championship sport, with preliminary work being done on developing a coach’s manual and competition standards.

“Restarting the cheer program at Bethel is very exciting,” said Kent Allshouse, Bethel athletic director. “To have someone like Jill on board to direct the program is truly fantastic. Jill has a tremendous amount of experience as a participant as well as a coach and she is hungry to get to work.

“Her exceptional energy is contagious and will be a tremendous asset for her as she spends the remainder of the 2011-12 school year recruiting to her team,” Allshouse continued. “The coed cheer team will not only provide additional opportunities for participation by Bethel students next year, but it will also serve as a beacon of school spirit across the campus.”

“I am extremely excited to become part of Bethel College,” Fenske said. “Cheerleading has appeared throughout Bethel history and has an exciting future here. I look forward to the opportunity to help to increase the proud Thresher spirit.”

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. In sports, Bethel competes within the 10-member Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and the NAIA. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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