“I never thought I’d be a cheerleader,” A look at MSU’s cheer captain DanLee Duncan


Colin Stevenson

Using one hand, kinesiology and english senior Danlee Duncan holds up dental hygeine sophomore Annee Qualls, Sept. 21.

DanLee Duncan, kinesiology junior, has done just about everything. Chances are, you’ve seen him at one point on campus whether with the MSU Texas cheer team, his fraternity, at fundraisers or university events. Duncan, now captain of the cheer team for the second year in a row, ironically he never saw it coming.

“When I was in high school, I actually had offers for baseball and track, but during my senior year at district, I ended up tearing my hamstring from baseball and unfortunately lost about three-fourths of my scholarship opportunities,” Duncan said. “However, MSU ended up calling about a week later and offered me an academic scholarship and it was just one of those opportunities that God had laid out for me. On one hand, I lost opportunities but was then offered one focused on academics.”

Although Duncan came to MSU to be part of the honors program, he still had a desire to be involved on campus and make a difference here at MSU. Originally from Quanah, a town with just about 2,300 people, Duncan says there were way more opportunities here in Wichita Falls, and he caught himself joining almost any organization that he could be a part of.

“I knew that I could make a difference and that’s what I wanted to do. My freshman year I ended up joining over ten organizations; amongst all, the one that has had the most significance in my life – is the MSU cheer team…I never thought I’d be a cheerleader. Some of my friends were on the cheer team at the time and they eventually talked me into it,” Duncan said.

Duncan says that cheer allowed him to branch out and meet different people from organizations and faculty members, attend special events and strengthen his physical, emotional and mental ability. In every aspect, Duncan says it’s shaped him into the person he is today.

“When I first walked into the coliseum for that practice, I thought it was going to be a situation where I just you know, show up, do my thing, have a little fun with everybody then leave. I never knew it would be one of those things where it turns out to be my life here at MSU…I instantly fell in love. It’s turned out to be what I’m starting to do with my future because now I’m Universal Cheerleaders Association staff and I get to travel now and coach different high schools,” Duncan said.

Kinesiology and english senior Danlee Duncan performs a one-handed handstand during cheerleading practice.
Kinesiology and english senior Danlee Duncan performs a one-handed handstand during cheerleading practice, Sept. 21. (Colin Stevenson)

Duncan says one of the biggest people that had an impact on his life was former MSU cheerleader, Brayden Hein. Hein was Duncan’s best friend when he joined the team and taught him almost everything that he knows now.

“My freshman year the team was so welcoming, and the personality that I have, I already come into atmosphere’s wanting and craving that personal connection with everyone so in combination of my personality and how the team was just so open, I got along with everyone quickly. I was able to grow with everyone on the team and learn from them while also having fun and joking around and overall having such a great time,” Duncan said.

Two other people that deeply impacted Duncan’s life for the better were Norma Ramirez, MSU’s former cheer advisor, and Collin Stokes, MSU cheer’s head coach. Duncan says that the two have helped him through difficult times.

“My freshman year, I had joined just about 18 organizations, eventually, it took a toll on my classes. My first semester I was staying up all night to meet homework deadlines because there weren’t enough hours in the day with everything I was involved in. That’s when I sat down with Norma and Collin, and they helped me figure out and find a way that worked with my class schedule. Another time they were there for me was when my grandfather died…my mom had texted Norma and Collin and explained what happened and within minutes, I received a call. They talked to me about it and we had a practice that weekend and despite being heartbroken, the cheer environment and family that we have, really helped me be positive in the midst of what was happening and prayed for me and I will always be grateful for that,” Duncan said.

Duncan has been captain of the cheer team since his junior year. He says going into his junior year he noticed how many veterans were graduating and saw it as an opportunity to step up. Duncan’s goal as a captain is to provide everyone the opportunity to grow.

“Yes, I know that I don’t have as much experience as others on the team but I felt my ideas, goals and personality would be very beneficial to the team…I knew I could help the team grow, especially the incoming freshman because making that transition from high school to college is hard and it’s hard to form connections, especially if you don’t have the right people around and that’s something I wanted to offer, and provide the right atmosphere to grow and become leaders themselves,” Duncan said.