There is a certain symmetry in Vicki Wirick's retirement choice.
Wirick, Ashland University's head cheerleading and dance coach, has announced her retirement, effective at the end of the 2016-17 basketball season. After 17 years of coaching both teams, she leaves behind a growing program, one which has been built to the point where 17 varsity cheerleaders began this school year, and 17 members make up the Eagle Elite Dance Team.
"I've been thinking about it a couple of years," Wirick said. "I have three grandsons now, and my oldest one, who is going to be turning 10 this spring, is getting involved in playing soccer, and missing soccer games after work…Saturday games, I was missing them to come to football games."
Wirick also mentioned she wants to attend University of Akron football games, where her nephew is a part of the team. She also said she is looking forward to antiquing and shopping on the weekends.
"It'll just be nice to get up and do things with my husband (Dave), and go to breakfast. Just enjoy our time together," said Wirick. "It's time to pass the torch to someone who can carry on the legacy that I have tried to build."
Taking over as Eagle cheerleading coach in the fall of 2000 and as AU dance team advisor in 2001, Wirick started with only eight cheerleaders. Using her then-job in admissions at Ashland as a recruiting vehicle, she built the program to the point where a junior varsity team was added for women's basketball.
Ashland's cheer program now has 28 members.
"In order to get the girls help with learning how to stunt, I started taking them to camp in 2002," recalled Wirick. "We attended AmeriCheer camp at Otterbein University in 2002, AmeriCheer Camp at Denison University in 2003, and then we stepped it up a notch and took the girls to a Universal Cheer Association camp at the University of Tennessee with all the other Division I colleges for the next three years.
"Attending there, my girls were able to achieve the same skills that were being done by the co-ed cheerleaders at the D-I level. At the advice of one of the instructors there, he said my girls were so good that we should think about bringing instructors to our campus, where they would get individual attention, which I did for the next three years."
One of Wirick's more than 700 pupils over the years has danced for both the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.
"During my tenure as cheerleading coach, I have attended many weddings, and now baby showers," Wirick said. "I feel very fortunate that I am still in touch with many of my girls. They've truly blessed my life."