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LCU Cheer with Coach Whitney Sales and Kiley Irlbeck

Thursday, Nov 17th, 2022
Author : Nathan Karseno

This episode of the LCU Podcast gives an inside look into LCU’s Cheer program. Head Coach Whitney Sales joins the podcast to talk about her new role, and Kiley Irlbeck, winner of Miss Cheerleader of America provided perspective of being a student-athlete cheerleader!

Episode length 41:20 minutes
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Nathan Karseno : Hello and welcome. This is the LCU podcast, a podcast that brings you stories, insights and people from Lubbock Christian University. I'm your host, Nathan Karseno, and I'm happy to be with you for another episode. Today, we talked with the new head coach of the LCU cheer program, Whitney Sales, as well as sophomore cheerleader Kiley Irlbeck. Coach Sales comes to LCU after spending the previous two years as the head cheer coach at Wayland Baptist University, where she led a program that won two national championships. Over the summer
Kiley was named the 2022 Miss Cheerleader America and was a part of the LCU squad that placed fourth at NCAA College Nationals at Daytona in 2022. We discussed how the team has adjusted to the coaching change, the importance of chemistry and trust within a competitive cheer program, and how the community of LCU has impacted them for the better.
I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Coach Whitney Sales and Kiley Irlbeck. We are pleased to welcome in our guest for this episode, the head coach of the LCU Competitive Cheer Program at Whitney Sales as well as sophomore cheerleader Kiley Irlbeck. Ladies, thank you for being here and taking your time out to talk with us today.
Whitney Sales : Yeah, thanks for having us, we’re pumped.
Kiley Irlbeck : Of course. It's awesome.
Nathan Karseno : Absolutely. It's going to be a great episode here on the LCU podcast. We really appreciate you all representing the LCU cheer program joining us today and an emerging program that hasn't had too long of a lifetime thus far, but certainly some great things coming out of the cheer program in recent years. So it will start with Coach Sales.
You were hired in to staff in around June and got to campus shortly after that. So as a whole, how has your time in Lubbock been so far?
Whitney Sales : Yeah. So July 1st was, I think, my official first start date and I've loved all the people here. I actually was a student at Texas Tech, so I loved my time in Lubbock and married a local guy from Idalou. So we're raising a family just outside of Lubbock and all the people in this community in this town have been so friendly and welcoming.
My first week here, some of the coaches had me over for family dinner and I've got three little boys. And so I was like, Are you sure this is do you know what you're getting into? And they had our family of five over and just made us feel like family and made us feel so welcomed. And as soon as I got that text just asking us and inviting us over, I was like, Oh, man, this is cool.
This is this is what I've been wanting. This is where we are supposed to be. And it was it was very solidifying, I guess, of, okay, this is where we're at and I like it.
Nathan Karseno : Yeah. You have recent ties to West Texas and throughout your life growing up in Idalou, of course, and then spending time at Wayland Baptist, what does it mean to you to be a part of this program in the short time that you've been here with us?
Whitney Sales : Sure. So I actually grew up in Austin. I'm born and raised in Austin, and I love the West Texas area. And my first college coaching job was at Wayland, like you said, and then I was able to interim coach at Texas Tech. So just being back here and being a part of this community and having a role that I'm able to give back to and jump into as well has been.
It's been a pretty cool honor. I've really all the people again and the community in the sense of family for just everywhere it's been, it's been pretty awesome.
Nathan Karseno : And Kiley, this is your second year here at LCU, you were named Miss Cheerleader America for 2022 over this summer, back in September. So, first off, congratulations to you. And what is this year been like here in your second year in the program?
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah, thank you. And it's been really awesome. I've really enjoyed like the second year of being on cheer and it's been a little crazy because like, as you say, it's like we have a new coach. Like that transition was crazy, but it's really been awesome. And like the transition and learning everything has just been really great.
Nathan Karseno : So for those who may not be too familiar to accustomed to the competitive cheer, lifestyle and sport that it is either of you, could you give us a rundown of kind of what the season's schedule looks like or maybe where the program is sitting at this point of the year?
Whitney Sales : Yeah. So their schedule and you can weigh in as well as a student athlete, but so their schedule, we practice three times a week, they have workouts 2 to 3 times a week as well. Then they cheer at all home games, volleyball, men's and women's basketball. I like for them to attend soccer games and baseball games. So they're there's schedule's pretty wild.
I've also set them up with lots of appearances and events that happen consistently. Speaking of yesterday morning, they were at an elementary school just going and showing up and giving high fives and they did the morning announcements, which I thought was so cute. And sometimes the principal's like, Can you do it? CHEER I'm like, So you got to be ready to be on the spot.
And whatever is asked, I say go for it. So we also get to get our mascot involved as well. So we'll send the cheerleaders out to these elementary schools or grand openings for local businesses. We've done tea places. We recently have a new sponsor levitating Salon and then F 45 provides our amazing workouts for us. So huge shout out to the local businesses that have welcomed us with open arms.
And we love sending our girls. I guess we I, I'm like, hey, here we go. Check out your schedule and and we get to go and be a part of, you know, really anything.
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah. And whenever you're looking at our cheer program as a whole right now, it's like we're in the off season and we're getting ready for Daytona and so the next semester will be our competition season and that'll be the real grind out. Get ready for that routine type time.
Whitney Sales : So yeah, y'all don't. Everybody's like, Oh, you're an off season. I'm like, Oh, but they don't really have an off season time. It's crammed packed with I think we had 15 events just in October that I was asking them to show up and smile for, and I think they love it, but their schedules are definitely pretty packed because workouts and then tumbling classes is I mean, it keeps them busy and then a bunch of them work too.
So yeah.
Nathan Karseno : Kiley What would you say is the your favorite thing or one of these events that Coach Sales talking about what is your favorite to go out and represent at?
Kiley Irlbeck : So my favorite is probably the elementary schools, but for me it's more of the kids aspect because I love kids and like getting to see them and like put a smile on their face before they have to have a long day at school. Is so like that just makes my heart happy. And so that is one of my favorite things about these events is that I just get to reach out to the community and like put smiles on these people's faces.
Nathan Karseno : That's very nice. And we do see each year at quite a bit of events and at least on campus, there's always the chap day that the cheerleaders are at representing. But I was glad to hear that you guys are around the community everywhere, throughout, every week. But as we look at kind of LCU as a cheer program and as a competitor, of course, CCA grand national champions in 2020 and 2021.
So coach as you are entering your first year getting getting ready for your first competitive season with LCU, what has the recent success of this program motivated you and how has it done that?
Whitney Sales : So I love their success in building tradition and purpose and family here as a competitive cheer program. So jumping into that, it's been an awesome opportunity and a huge honor, of course. And every year our division is growing and growing. So getting getting us to understand that each year we have to be better than the last. And recognizing the growth for the divisions and learning how to consistently be a competitor in our division, I think is kind of something that we're learning and figuring out together as a whole and how to be successful on the mat and off the mat.
Nathan Karseno : And not only the CCA Grand Collegiate National Champions, but NCAA College Nationals top five finishes in recent years, a fourth last year when Kiley was of course with the team. So remembering back at the Daytona memories from last year, what would you take away most from those experiences and how the team did last year?
Kiley Irlbeck : So for me, going in as a rookie, never going to Daytona before, it was an eye opening experience because they always tell us, Oh, Daytona changes your perspective on cheer and competing and everything. I was like, No, no way. But it really does. When you get there and you feel that like energy of grass practices and then you get on the mat and you compete.
And then not only do we hit zero once, but twice both days, and I don't think any of the teams did that that we were competing against that got top five. And so just feeling so proud of my team and like getting closer that week really, it just it pushes you together and that's just the memories that you'll keep forever.
Nathan Karseno : So I don't think quite many people understand how significant it is getting zero deductions back to back in a cheer competition that is intricate like like one of those at nationals for coach on your side looking at a performance like that as a whole, how does team chemistry and cohesiveness play a part of having a great score such as that.
Whitney Sales : Yes. So when you're stunting and as a flyier, which is what Kiley is, you've got she has to trust her bases and she's got a lover bases and those bases in back spots, they've got to trust her as well that she's going to get in the air and not have a freak out moment and that she's going to be able to trust her body to do what she knows how to do.
And she's incredibly skilled. She's an awesome athlete. She's an awesome competitor. She's a great teammate. So to have that group of four that love and trust one another, I mean, that's invaluable. And they've got to know that they're group. Yes, but the group opposite of them on the mat that they're going to also do their job. So to have a team of 25 that trust one another and love one another and a 25 girls aren't.
I mean, I'm not going to be unrealistic here. We're not going to always get along at the exact same time, and there's going to be our days. But I do feel honestly that I can say they love one another and they respect one another. So things can happen and we can have disagreements. But at the end of the day, they love and trust one another.
And that's where that's the difference is. That's where it happens.
Nathan Karseno : Right in Kiley with having that experience. And of course the team chemistry that you've built with the girls already on the team, what can you learn from those memories to help the freshmen coming in? The rookies, you might call them not having that experience, maybe not having a lot of experience or different ranges of what experiences they may have.
How do you use what you learned in what coach is talking about to help them and then of course help the team?
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah, for sure. I think a big thing is like us having big leadership and saying like, Hey, here's the standard, like come meet our standard and come like we want us to be meshed together. And so a big thing for us is like we like show, I feel like we should show how we want the team to look and then like we also help them get to that point.
So like, hey, we need to go tumble like let's go. I'm going to come pick you up. We're going to go tumble so we can all get better. And that's going to help us as a team together. And another thing is like, I love to go and like to the gym and stunt so that we can just get better and have more team chemistry.
The more that we do things, the more that we have that chemistry and the more that we're going to have that cohesiveness. So I think a big thing is just for us to have that leadership and to show like, Hey, this is what we want to look like.
Whitney Sales : Yeah, the leadership has been amazing. Just to kind of piggyback off what Kiley saying is I've been able to rely on them. I can call these veteran cheerleaders and say, hey, I need this done. And some of the times they're like, Oh, I already did that for you. I'll send it over. Or, Hey, this girl seems to be struggling and they're like, I'm taking her to lunch today already or Yeah, we went to coffee yesterday.
Or We're going to go study together. So just having them be able to fill in those gaps of I'm just one person and there's 25 of them and I would love to just have all of them over to my house and sit and have a powwow on the couch every single day and check in and make sure that everybody's okay and loving life and loving what they're doing and being successful in school.
But I mean, realistically, I can't. So that's where I have been able to rely on our veteran girls that are filling in those gaps. For me.
Nathan Karseno : As we've mentioned already, it's pretty much a year round thing in terms of cheer as you are cheering at other athletic events as well as cheering yourself in the competitions. Kiley What would you say is the hardest part of the entire academic year in terms of the different sections? And what do you enjoy most during those times.
Kiley Irlbeck : Is probably the time management because it's like, Hey, I have to go cheer at a basketball game at 7:00. We're going to get done at nine. I have the Kappa meeting at 9:00 and I have to be at that's going to last till ten. I have an exam in two days. Like I need to make sure I'm on top of my grades.
It's more of just being able to like, you know, time manage and know exactly when I have homework do or an exam. And sometimes it just gets tough. Like sometimes midterms hit and like, wow, I didn't realize there was a test in that class or something. And sometimes life just happens. But I got to say, I am normally pretty good about, you know, staying on top of my stuff.
But my favorite is definitely cheering at the basketball games. I know we haven't hit that quite yet, but on Saturday we will. And that's just the atmosphere is just so different and it's so energetic and so much fun to be at. So that's definitely my favorite during the year of academics, everything.
Nathan Karseno : Growing up for you, what did you kind of enjoy most in cheer and how ultimately did you begin in the sport?
Kiley Irlbeck : So for me, I actually did competitive gymnastics since I was two, and so I grew up doing all of that, and so I'm a big tumbler. And then I got into cheer in school and I started in fifth grade and I don't know, I just really always loved it. It was always something that I was like, You know what?
This is kind of one of my passions. I love doing this. And then I hit college and I was like, I in long story short, I wasn't supposed to come to LCU, but then did the good Lord's plan. I ended up here and it was great, awesome, and I've loved it ever since. And like especially since I came here last year, I have just grown so much more of a passion for cheer that I never realized I actually had.
And I feel like if you look at me from last year to today, there's been so much growth. And I can say that for our whole team, too.
Whitney Sales : So I'm going to correct you. You said you weren't supposed to come to LCU, but you were totally always supposed to come to LCU. It was just you had to realize.
Kiley Irlbeck : I didn't realize it, right? Yeah.
Nathan Karseno : Well, it's good that the program was just recently getting going by the time you were making your college decision and heading to LCU. But as we mentioned, the program was added in 2018. There may have been a little bit of growing pains throughout the beginning of that stage creating the program. But Coach, where do you think the program stands at this moment with as much success as the program has had still in little time.
Whitney Sales : The the success and the growth, it's awesome. And it's just going to continue to get better. So we are growing our program and we're looking to potentially double in size and add a Spirit Rally team, which also competes in Daytona. So currently we compete in performance, which is the the division and the style that we compete in. And so ideally we will add Spirit Rally as well.
So it'll be two teams, which is really cool because it gives us the opportunity to love on more, more kids. And I say kids, but I know you're I fully know you're an adult, but it gives us the it gives more kids the opportunity to come and carry out their passion and do something that they love. So doubling the program size, I think would be amazing.
Did I answer your question or did I go rogue?
Nathan Karseno : Yeah, no, I think that was it. But in terms of doubling, that does resolve or that does come from the recruitment process, of course. And so you have spent a lot of time in high school working with cheerleaders who eventually moved on to college ranks and now as the head college coach recruiting yourself now, how has that process been like and what are the differences from high school changing to college?
Whitney Sales : Getting our name out there is so important and we've got a social media team that I've brought. It's our girls and we've kind of decided who does what and who's taking pictures and who's taking videos and who's making the reels and who's doing the tiktoks and all the things. So that everybody's got different jobs within the team. So getting our name out there, I'm I've been invited then.
So, so blessed to have so many people that are like, Oh, we want you to succeed. So I've been invited to lots of recruit clinics lately. USA Cheer There's a big one in Houston in December that I've been invited to. So I mean flying down and flying around and getting our name out there and giving me the opportunity to to say, hey, my kids are awesome, come check us out.
This university is phenomenal. Come check this out. And chap days has been really great too, because I'm able to say, let's have a clinic on Sunday, come check out the team, come check out the program, see how we do see. Check out the coaching style, see if it's for you, see our dynamics, see how you feel loved when you're here and then the next day see the university and see the greatness that's here.
Nathan Karseno : Looking back on your recruitment process, what was it about LCU that stood out to you and made it the place to be?
Kiley Irlbeck : So I went to Trinity Christian High School, which is in Lubbock, and I actually took dual credit classes here. And like we would literally come and take classes in the mornings and then we would go back to school. And so LCU has always been a little like almost like home. And that's the number one thing for me. Whenever I decided to come to LCU was this is home.
Like, I love the people here, I love the professors, I love the coaches, I love everything about it. And so it made it so easy to be like, yes, LCU.
Nathan Karseno : If you could have a recruitment pitch of your own, either of you, what would you say that makes LCU stand out to anyone who is considering whether a part of the cheer program or not?
Kiley Irlbeck : So I think a big pitch would be that just come see Lubbock, because Lubbock is such a welcoming place as Coach Sales says. And it also I don't know about y'all, but I love the food here.
Nathan Karseno : So that's always a plus.
Kiley Irlbeck : Yes, that's always a plus. And on our team, I think that we all love each other well. And whether we're having a bad day or not, we know how to come to each other and talk to each other. So that's a big thing. I think whenever you're looking at teams, it's like, hey, is there going to be a way I can like step into this and be able to like have a family whether I'm away from home or not?
So I really just like creating the atmosphere of home. Here is what my biggest recruitment pitch would be. Love that.
Nathan Karseno : Coach. Have you used any of those tactics thus far, are you?
Whitney Sales : I actually have because I feel like I'm home as well. And I feel that these girls are I mean, these are my people. These are my girls. And I'll go to battle for them and I love that I have the opportunity to just love on them and pour into them and watch them pour into each other and watch their growth.
But the faculty and staff of the university have been fantastic and I can tell that they want success for all the students. And if I'm going to use you because this has never happened before, but if Kiley were to go into a class and she's just not herself, then I usually get the emails. Hey, Coach, Kiley didn't seem herself.
Is everything going okay? Is there any. Is there anything we can do to help her through whatever it could be? Or maybe she's struggling, or she hasn't turned in an assignment? And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, where am I? This is this is insane that these professors take the time to recognize she's not herself today. I mean, that's huge.
And as a mom, I have three little boys that as a mom, if I'm sending my kids away to college, this is where I'd want them to be. Those are the type of professors that I want pouring into my kids. And this faculty in the staff. This is this is who I would want to love on my kids.
Nathan Karseno : Yeah. It's the community aspect of a small, small, tight knit community and cheer sees a lot of that being one, I mean, being the only sport that competes right alongside another sport, if you will, talk about being on the sidelines for basketball or volleyball or what have you. So what do you think is unique about the cheer program that connects to the community of LCU?
Whitney Sales : We are very involved. We've got girls in sororities, we've got girls in SAC, we've got representatives for so many different groups, and I love that. I encourage that. I want them to be well-rounded because at the end of the day, when you graduate college and your time is done with me, you've got to be able to jump in and figure out how to work well with others.
And you need to have a resumé that shows that you're well-rounded and that you can handle multitasking. And so giving them the opportunity to say, Well, I was our discipleship leader in our program, where I was the social media chair or I was the Kappa president or I was this, this, and this. It just shows and it gives them more experience to handle things when real life happens and you aren't you aren't under this really sweet umbrella of LCU.
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah. I think it also really helps, like, our sponsors and like for F 45, like we have to go there and work out, which it's wonderful and it's so amazing, but also it like it gets us into the community and there's other people not just cheer there. And another thing is like the elementary schools and the high schools that we go to and we step out, out of our little community and go out into the big community and pour into people.
So that's another thing. I think we have.
Whitney Sales : It's very important for me to have a program of girls that have servant's hearts and giving us the time and the experience to go out and do these things really helps our hearts to grow and to love on others. And we can show Jesus by just showing up and serving on and serving and loving others. I mean, that that's how we're showing Jesus.
And I think that's pretty awesome.
Nathan Karseno : That's very cool. What would you all say is your something you're most looking forward to not only the rest of this year, but even later on down the future?
Kiley Irlbeck : Well, for me, number one thing is Daytona. I am so excited. I'm always excited for Daytona season to come around and it's tough whenever you're trying to get your body in shape, but it's so rewarding and whenever you get there, the team just comes together so incredibly. Like, it's insane how close we get. And within a week after like after that.
And so I'm so excited for Daytona. I'm so excited for basketball season to be here. I, I just love cheering so I'm excited for it all.
Whitney Sales : I love to see the growth in them not to get all mushy gushy, but from the day that I first got here and just the incredible growth individually that each one of them have made has been so heartwarming and and I look forward to seeing them grow as humans and adults and young ladies and women who will eventually be working women and wives and moms and just getting the opportunity.
And that's such a privilege for me to see the growth that these these girls get to make.
Nathan Karseno : I mean, I love the way you mentioned growth in multiple aspects of cheer and in life. Kiley, how do you think you have grown not only as a cheerleader here at LCU, but as a whole as a student and young adult?
Kiley Irlbeck : Oh yeah. If you asked my parents, they would say, wow, you have grown so much in this one year from your senior year of high school to now, it's like you've just grown into this wonderful woman, and I am just, I don't know, I'm so excited to see, like, more, more growth happen, but I just feel so much more mature and like, I understand life a little bit more and that just always is like a perk, I guess, of growth.
And I think that I've grown not only as a cheerleader. You can look at videos like you can just see the growth of confidence and but I think that I have also grown the confidence of like, you know, just being a person and being able to talk to people and just a little bit of everything.
Nathan Karseno : So I'm sure a lot of that growth has come from the Miss Cheerleader America experience you had over the summer, kind of go through how that whole process is and what the experience was like competing at the Nationals stage.
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah. So I got asked to do it and she, I got texted and she was like, hey, like you just have to send in a video, try out like here's all the stuff. And I was like, okay, like let's do it, you know? And so for the video tryout, it was a I did a whole five minute speech about myself and that was crazy because it took me 6 hours to realize this is how I want to talk about myself.
And then I turned in a bunch of my tumbling. I had to do a running, tumbling pass, standing, tumbling jumps, all the good stuff. And from there they got selected as the Miss Texas cheerleader America. And so when I found out that I got selected for the Miss Texas Cheerleader America, it was crazy. I was in Bible class, I was checking my email and I was like, No way, this is so awesome.
And so it was just so cool and Bible class, but, and then so I got ready the whole summer. So I had to get ready. I had to prepare a running routine that included jumps, tumbling, a dance portion. And I made that all up pretty much by myself. I had our assistant coach, Dom, he helped me and one of my best friends hope she helped me with the dance portion and that I got that one minute routine ready.
And then I also had to do a runway walk, which was for athletic wear and evening gown and, and then I had an interview. So normally interview is pretty fun. Like that's, that's one of my go to good things. So it wasn't too hard to get ready for interview. But yeah, we got to the competition, which was in Little Rock, Arkansas, and it was amazing from the time I got there to the time I left and we had rehearsals to the competition and I don't know the whole time it was just so like they just poured into us because it's a Christian based organization, which I just love that about that.
And so I also made some of like my I feel like I'm going to have like lifelong friends from that just because we were so close the whole time. Like we, they were helping us pull our dresses, you know, walk backstage and everything. And another little crazy thing is, two weeks before the competition, I actually I sprained my ankle, like, so bad that I couldn't walk.
And it was two weeks and I was like, Oh, no, I have to wear heels, I have to, like, tumble. And so, like, I had to take a week off. And then from there on I was like, All right, let's go. And so walking in heels was definitely a trip, learning. That was fun. But KT tape is a lifesaver.
And yeah, the whole experience is just incredible. So.
Nathan Karseno : Well, we're very proud of you for the success and for the accomplishment over the summer. But you mentioned the physical toll that now I'm sure not a lot of people really understand when you look at not only just competitive cheer, but sideline cheer as well, how do you combat the aches and pains that you may go through over a course of an entire season?
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah, so a big thing that our coaches always tell us is know the difference between hurt and hurting? Because hurting we can we can fix that. We can do ice, we can do some therapy. That's easy. We can push through a little bit of hurt. But whenever you're hurt, hurt, you got to realize, hey, I need to sit out like, hey, I need to take a break for a week or two weeks, figure it out.
And sometimes it's just like that. And I think that whenever you're trying to combat your aches and pains, it's really important to know, like, what it is and how to go about it. So like with my ankle, I have been like coming off of wearing my ankle bracelet I'm so proud of, but I'm coming off wearing that ankle brace and I'm just wearing KT tape and I'm trying to, you know, get off of that so I can just have my strong ankle back.
And so it's just like learning how to almost cope with it and then come back down and strengthen it again.
Whitney Sales : So and our athletic trainer, Liam, has just been holy moly, he's phenomenal. He's in there watching practice like, okay, what if the girls, you know, and, and she's really standing up straight and he's trying to learn the sport so quickly and gosh, we just can't thank him enough. He's fantastic.
Nathan Karseno : Yeah. Liam, he works with Track also. Oh, yeah, too. Yeah, he's great.
Whitney Sales : Hooray for Liam.
Nathan Karseno : Yeah, but I think the most important thing when you're thinking of injuries is just having the mindset that the light at the end of the tunnel is Daytona. And that is the most important thing, just getting ready for that at the least. So, Coach, I know we've talked about how much success this program has had. You being in your first year going through it, it's hard to put any expectations in your mind, but sometimes they just creep in naturally.
So what are you looking forward to and how do you think the team will do later this year as we get closer to Daytona season?
Whitney Sales : Yeah the hunger is hunger is the word that I'm thinking of is I want them to experience being hungry for success and never to be complacent. So we are, like I said, you know, a thousand times already this morning is the growth aspect of things are so important. But they they've got to want it because I can't want it for them.
And as much as I can just you can do this, you can do this. Let's do this together. They have to want to be here. They have to want to work hard. And then they've got to show up and they've got to show up with a good attitude. And they've got to show up to workouts and they've got to show up to extra practices and show up for tumbling.
And I can't I can't do that for them. So me trusting these girls, to, or young ladies to have that hunger and I think going to Daytona together, having our own success as a young program in a growing season will be amazing. Regardless of what the outcome, but that hunger of ohh, okay, so this is what we want.
This is this is who we want to be. And this is the feeling that we want to have. Again, I mean, that's going to that's going to speak volumes and that's going to stick with us.
Nathan Karseno : And you mentioned earlier getting your name out there. One of the great ways to do that is have the great finishes you have had at Daytona and at other places and national competitions. So it really does start there in terms of recruiting and getting the name out there. But if you can even imagine what this program will grow into, we mentioned just how new really it is compared to maybe other programs around the conference and whatnot.
Where do you see this program headed in just maybe the next few, couple of weeks or couple of years? And then eventually down the line?
Whitney Sales : I want us to be known and known for the right thing. Being known for success is awesome, but being known for being awesome people is even better. So I want us to be yes, man those girls have talent. Those kids have talent. That that program, they're really skilled. But it's also when we check into a hotel or when we go out to dinner or we meet for tea or coffee, it's those girls are so respectful and we love having them and let's let's have them back.
I think that's that's so that's just as important as the success and the finish is. We want to be able to serve our mission and represent our university and God in the proper way and do what we've been called to do. So being known for carrying out our mission and being awesome is going to be is going to be great.
Nathan Karseno : And we're certainly excited for the future of the cheer program not only this year, but for years to come under the leadership of coach sales. And we mentioned it right at the beginning, but Kiley already had been here a year. How have you adjusted to the mindset and the goals that Coach Sales have just mentioned, and how are you aiming to put that into fruition this year?
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah, for sure. Coach Sales. Coach Sales has actually made it super easy for that transition and honestly, it's just been I don't know, like I said that earlier, that the transition was just easy and like we came in into our first meeting with Coach Sales and I had so many questions, I was like, Are we going to do this or this or this?
And she's like, Yes. Like Absolutely. I don't see why not like everything that we've had questions on and everything that we've been worried about. She has just told us like, Hey, don't worry about it. I got it. Guys like, you're good. And that has been so like I don't know, relieving, I guess is the word. And another thing is just like the amount that she just wants to pour into us that just like, I don't know, it makes us feel a lot better as like we're trying to like worry about getting our skills done.
But also she's like, hey, like, it's okay. Like, let's figure this out, you know, like, what's going on in life then that we'll also probably help what we're doing.
Whitney Sales : So yeah, doing life together, it's pretty awesome.
Kiley Irlbeck : Definitely.
Nathan Karseno : Do you think you all have increased your bond as of late? Obviously when you weren't familiar with one another, where do you think the bond with not only just you two in particular, but with the entire team has grown into with coach sales?
Kiley Irlbeck : So definitely with our bond, it would be all the way from that first meeting that we had. It was like, All right, who is she? Like, we got to figure this out. And then now today I feel like I can step into a room and be like, Hey, like, I'm struggling with this. Can you help, like, figure this out?
And she'll be there with open arms and like, so happy to be there that like, it's not going to be a difficult conversation. It's going to be like it might be difficult for me to say what's going on in life, but like, she'll make it like simple for me to be able to be like, Hey, this is what I'm struggling with and like, but I just want you to know.
So, like, we can talk about it and like, I don't know, you can just bring some, like, life into me, and you always do that so.
Whitney Sales : Well, I love loving on you guys. It's. It's the coolest job I could never if I were to draw out what I love doing. I'm doing exactly that. Just loving on the greatest people I couldn't ask for better.
Kiley Irlbeck : And that's one of your number one things, too, is whenever we stepped into our first practice, she was like, I'm going to figure out your love languages and that like, I want to love y'all the way you want to be loved. So I'm figuring that out. And so you've definitely done that.
Nathan Karseno : I was about to ask you even, what is it about being a coach? I mean, you just kind of mentioned all of it just in this last minute, but what is it about being a coach in general that has touched you the most and allowed you to have the platform you do to impact people?
Whitney Sales : I've been coaching a long time. I've been to weddings, I've been to baby showers, I've gotten the phone call and I head up to the hospital and get to hug and love on new babies. I mean, it is I get to know their grandparents. It is. I mean, there is nothing like it. There's nothing that I could ever say.
No, I think that sounds way cooler to do. I get to be a part of these kids families and their lives, and then if they're here with me four years, that's amazing. But our relationship is not going to end in the four years just because you have a cap and gown on. I want to be a part of your life forever.
And if you if you'll have me and I love that they're cool with it, they just kind of let me let me be me. And I am a lover and I'm a hugger. And I like to be tender and I like to know the nitty and the nitty gritty of your life. And if something's going on like, let's walk through this together so you're not alone.
And it's it's tough to be a teenage girl and it's tough to be a 20 year old girl. It doesn't matter. A female. There's some tough things. And to just know that you're not having to go through that alone is I mean, that that's that's what I'm here for.
Nathan Karseno : And right before sign off here, Kiley Jumping off of that, how have coaches impacted you and even coach sales in particular in the short time you've been together? How have the coach as a whole grown you and helped you throughout your life?
Kiley Irlbeck : Yeah, so as I said earlier, me being in gymnastics since I was two, those coaches have been in my life, my whole life. It's Marilyn and Wayne. They have completely poured themselves into me and. They are my family, like 100%. I can go to them with anything and everything and I call them my grandparents because like I can just be like go into the gym and be like, okay, like I need to work on this skill.
And they're like, okay, well, what's going on in life? Like, you got that boy still or something, you know, like, you know, vs something silly or it'll be something super serious. And like that coach aspect has taught me so many things and even in high school and everything, like those coaches just truly wanted to pour into me and, and in college, like as coach sales, as I said, like she loves me and like she loves our whole team.
And like, just the fact that these coaches want to pour into my life has incredibly matured. Me and I'm like, That's just stuff that I can't I can't just ask for. Like, God has placed that in my life and I'm so grateful for that.
Nathan Karseno : So Coach, being at LCU for the limited time you have, how do you think the university has impacted you the most?
Whitney Sales : The welcoming anytime. I mean, it's still what we're in at end of October and I'm still getting emails that are like and welcome again and we're so glad you're here. Just simple little emails about a key or unlocking a door or the time to show up at something. It's always like, Oh, and welcome and how's your time here?
And we're so glad you're here. It's just been very, you know, jump on in. You're part of this, too. And the athletic department has been welcoming. I just I cannot say enough good things about my time here.
Nathan Karseno : We are very happy that you are with us for this year and for hopefully many times to come. And we really appreciate you coming on to the podcast today and getting to hear a little more about the LCU cheer program. So I thank you both for taking your time out and joining us today. And we look forward to an incredible cheer season to come.
Whitney Sales : Awesome. Well, thanks for having us. We appreciate it.
Kiley Irlbeck : Absolutely.
Nathan Karseno : This has been head coach of the LCU cheer program, Whitney Sales, as well as a sophomore cheerleader. Kiley Irlbeck, thank you for listening to the LCU podcast. If you enjoyed today's discussion, please like and share with someone else so they're able to do the same. And without further ado, this has been the LCU podcast. Thank you for listening and we'll see you in the next one.
Outro : Thanks for listening to LCU Podcast for more content like this, go to LCU.edu.

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