Although Danni Ruoff has only been at Kansas State University for a few months, she says she is already starting to feel at home.
Ruoff took the job as head coach of K-State's cheerleading squad this summer. She has 14 years of collegiate cheerleading coaching experience.
Since joining K-State, she's been busy learning all the university's traditions.
"I came from a school that didn't have a lot of tradition," Ruoff said. "It's definitely a college town here. The traditions have not been hard to learn; they've been fun to learn. The campus has been very friendly to me. It's a good feel here."
Ruoff previously coached at Montana State University in Bozeman. She also was a cheerleader and then a cheerleader coach at Montana State University-Billings. She has been cheering since she was in the seventh grade. As a sophomore in high school, she was selected to cheer on an all-star team in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"Cheerleading is not taken real seriously in Montana," Ruoff said. "When I was scouted to cheer for the all-star team, I was able to travel to places like California and Hawaii, where it was taken seriously. Then I really saw what cheerleading was like outside of my state. I brought back what I learned and started working with people in Montana and Wyoming."
Ruoff said she came to K-State because she was ready for a change and coaching at the Big 12 level was a great opportunity. She has many goals for the future of the K-State cheer squad, including increasing the number of male cheerleaders on the squad, raising the squad's grade point average and helping the squad become more active in the community. She also plans to take the squad to area nursing homes as part of community outreach.
"My favorite part about being a cheerleading coach is building confidence in people and preparing them for their future," Ruoff said. "What we do on the sidelines -- the stunts, the cheers, the dances -- that's very little of what we actually do. I like to try and teach them something about life after college, how to be a better person and how to help somebody else."
Along with games and events during the week, members of K-State's cheer squad practice three nights a week and take part in various scheduled workouts and study tables.
Ruoff has enjoyed getting to know each individual athlete on the squad. She said in the few months that she has been here, she has already built up a great rapport with the squad and is looking forward to the future of K-State's cheerleading program.