The Last Dance Coach

A Conversation with Retiring Rutgers Spirit Coach Mike Stickle on his 30 span at Rutgers University

Brian Hester Reporting


Photo by Brian Hester

Greeting Broadway fans, Patrons of the Arts, fellow New Yorker’s, As we all anxiously await the return of live theatre in NYC, I have been looking for any and all nature of positive items to write about and share. Perhaps you saw the Mother’s Day & Easter flowers? I was fortunate enough to share a few minutes with retiring Rutgers Spirit Coach Mike Stickle and discuss some of the changes he has witnessed over the years and the accomplishments and awards that he has helped bring the Rutgers University

Photo by Brian Hester

Mike Stickle was Head Coach of the Rutgers Spirit Program from 1990-98, returning in 2010 as an assistant for the Dance Team. He currently serves as coach of the Coed and All Girl Cheer Teams and the Mascots and remains an assistant for the Dance Team. Mike is a writer and producer for live events, television, and video. His work has won him Emmy Awards for writing and producing and garnered a Sundance PGA selection.



Photo by Brian Hester

For many years I have been covering Rutgers football games, capturing images of not only the football players but all the “flavor” of an NCAA D1 college football game. That includes the other parts that make up the full excitement of NCAA D1 college football, the marching band, the spirit squads, which include, Cheer, Co-Ed Cheer, and Dance, and of course the student section. From my view on the field I get to observe so many things that the rest of the fans simply do not see, as it should be, as these are “behind the scenes”, activities. For any college football game at this level there is always a “run of show” that dictates when all of the peripheral items within a football game occur. There are a ton of moving pieces. At Rutgers, there are multiple squads of cheer and dance at both ends of the field and choreographed dance routines designed to fit in exactly the length of a time out, 30 bodies, flying on and off the field. Mike has always made this look easy.


Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

In addition to the entire Spirit squad and all of their movements up and down the sidelines, as they change locations each ¼, one should also bear in mind that we at Rutgers also include in that folly a live canon firing from one endzone each time Rutgers scores and a real Knight on a real horse charging across the other endzone. Mikes’ student athlete’s preform with precision and rhythm and add an element that brings the entire Saturday afternoon gameday experience together.



Photo by Brian Hester


Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

While Mike’s presence on the sidelines will be missed it must be noted that his legacy will continue with a protégé of sorts in current Head Coach Christine Zoffinger. As Mike tells us in the interview, he coached Christine in high school and the same year that Mike came to Rutgers Christine also came to Rutgers as a student athlete on the spirit squad. As an alumnus of Rutgers University, I would like to extant a heartfelt thank you for your many years of service and wish the very best in your future endeavors.


Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

As I have mentioned here in previous columns Rutgers Scarlet Knight Football tickets are available, full season, or single game, and their home, SHI Stadium, is located only a short stone throw from midtown Manhattan. Don’t miss out on all the action this fall as former head coach Greg Schiano returns to bring the Scarlet Knights into contention in the Big Ten conference.



Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

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