Five years ago, Kelsey Messer was one of many collegiate cheerleaders to hit The Blue. As a squad captain and flyer, she found a home at Boise State. Fast forward to today — Messer is now the head coach of the Spirit Squad, which includes sideline, mane line and Buster Bronco.
When former head coach Kassondra Landry departed at the end of the 2018-19 season, Messer knew she could not let the program go to anyone else. While athletic director Curt Apsey conducted the hiring, Landry gave an exceptional recommendation to nudge him towards Messer.
“I’ve invested so much time and energy into what we’ve done here and what we’ve built over the last eight years,” Messer said. “I would have been so upset with myself if I didn’t step up into that role, knowing that I knew I had what it takes to continue to push this program to where we all want it to be.”
Messer grew up in the small town of Enumclaw, Wa. and competed as a gymnast for 15 years. She picked up cheerleading in her junior year of high school and continued with the sport throughout college.
“I just got to the point where I was done [with gymnastics]. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, but cheerleading seemed like a fun thing,” Messer said. “[I have] just six years of cheering, but my gymnastics background really helps bring that all together. Tumbling, stunting, everything; body awareness really helps.”
Even though Messer’s background is more reflective of gymnastics than cheer and dance, she has made it a point to attend dance classes to brush up on her knowledge in order to help with the squad overall.
With just six years of cheer experience and four years as a volunteer assistant coach under her belt, Messer has strived to keep up the quality of performances from previous seasons.
Last season, cheer placed 13th at Universal Cheerleaders Association and Mane Line placed seventh in jazz and fourth in hip hop at the National Dance Alliance. Messer is striving towards similar season outcomes for the squad.
According to the assistant coach Tiffany McCree, Messer has seamlessly maintained the squad’s momentum through her promotion.
“I think Kelsey is continuing the legacy that we’ve had throughout a lot of coaches,” McCree said. “She’s just building on that momentum that we have. She wants us to be the best, and she wants to see the program continue to succeed and do well. So that’s kind of where we’re starting and just keep moving forward.”
Junior flyer Megan Gai believes Messer has the ability to carry out the growth of the team. According to Gai, Messer cares about those on the squad as individuals first and athletes second.
“She has really high expectations of us, which is good because as student-athletes, you need to have high expectations or else you’re not going to follow through,” Gai said. “She does a good job of checking up on us, individually and as a team. Just making sure our heads are in the right places in school and on the mat.”
Messer not only motivates the team, she is also a positive influence for the cheerleaders. McCree, who was also on the Spirit Squad with Messer when they were in college, works alongside Messer and witnesses first-hand how she affects the squad.
“[Messer] puts her heart and soul into this and everything that she does. I think that’s a great ethic to have as a coach,” McCree said. “She gives [the squad]110% every single time and every single practice. That’s a great thing to instill in these kids and have them see that, hey, if I work hard, I can do this.”
Messer has been a Boise State coach for a total of five years now, and members of the Spirit Squad hope she continues to be a part of the team and keep the legacy going.
“I hope she sticks with the program as long as she possibly can because of her impact that she’s had on the team,” Gai said. “She’s made a lot of great relationships with incoming freshmen and stuff like that. I would love to have her continue coaching throughout the years.”