Simpson alum sets to make serious changes to the cheer program


Morgan Parrish

Simpson alumna, Alexa Rhode, will be returning to coach cheer.

by Morgan Parrish, Staff Reporter

Simpson alum Alexa Rhode is taking over as the new head coach of the Simpson cheer team and is looking to make several changes this coming season.

Rhode graduated from Simpson in 2016 with a bachelor’s in psychology and will be graduating from Drake University in December with a master’s in education. Rhode and her husband, whom she met at Simpson, live in Mitchellville with their two dogs.

“I took this position because cheering has always been a passion of mine, and being a coach has been a true dream,” Rhode said. “Being able to live out that dream at a school that means so much to me makes this even better.” 

Rhode’s cheer background consists of three years of competitive cheering in high school at Southeast Polk and four years as a member of the Simpson cheer team for the football and basketball teams.

“I am looking forward to really building up this Simpson Cheer program. I plan to get our team involved in more competitions and compete at a higher level,” Rhode said. “I am really excited to get this next year started.” 

Rhode is prepared to make this season a building season for the program and plans to focus on stunting and performance abilities. Rhode has met with several previous members to discuss her expectations. She believes they will have no issues with her goals for the team going into a new season.

“The returners will have to get used to a new coach and the way I want things to be done, but I don’t foresee it being an issue. I have some high expectations for this program, so making those changes and working our way up to those can seem a bit scary but not concerning,” Rhode said.

Rhode understands that the impact of COVID-19 turned the cheer program upside down for a couple of years, but she is ready to get this team back on track and turn it into a more serious sport.

“I plan to make this a more competitive program and get us entered into some more competitions. Along with this will bring extra practices and strength and conditioning being added for our program,” Rhode said.

Tryouts are scheduled for April 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first practice is set for the week of August 22 during camp week. This fall, the team will have its first performance at the home opening football game.

“So far, I have about ten people signed up for tryouts. I would love to have 20-25 people on my team next year. So, if anyone has ever thought about doing cheer, I would love to have you and talk about where I see the program going,” Rhode said.

Rhode says the Simpson community can expect to see some significant changes in how the cheer team will perform this coming season. Those considering joining the team or interested in becoming Thunder the mascot should contact Rhode.

“You will see enthusiastic, high-spirited individuals cheering on your sports teams throughout the year. You can expect to see an amped up ‘Yell Like Hell’ routine from them,” Rhode said.

First-year Gabriela Garcia Medina has been on the cheer team for one year and hopes to make it two years after tryouts this month. Medina said she is excited to see what she can learn from Rhode.

“Every season, no matter the coach, is always different; all I can hope for is it will be a beneficial difference,” Medina said.

Medina is looking forward to having another year of energizing the team and students to do their best on and off the field and thinks it is helpful that Rhode is a Simpson alumna because she knows the rivalries, layout and message of the college.

“I hope to see us become more active and involved on campus to spread team spirit. Coach Rhode already has her game plans, goals and schedule for this upcoming year which makes me hopeful,” Medina said.

Sophomore Mikayla Hoover plans to enter her second year on the cheer team and believes Rhode will be a significant change to the program.

“I am excited for a new coach, we had kind of a rough season last year, and I think we needed some changes. I’m hoping that this change in coach will be a positive thing and help elevate our program,” Hoover said.

Hoover’s favorite thing about Rhode is the ambition and excitement she has for the program.

“We haven’t started practices or had tryouts yet, so just from talking to her, it sounds like the overall dynamic is going to be run a little differently, but I think they are all going to be positive changes,” Hoover said.

 Hoover hopes to see continued growth and improvement from her team, and is looking forward to both working with Rhode and getting to know her better.

“I hope Rhode’s enthusiasm and excitement will rub off on us and make us more excited and motivated,” Hoover said. “I am excited about this coming season and hope we have a successful year.”