The Kingwood Mustangs cheer squad has been under the leadership and guidance of Van Christman for over 10 years now. “The girls and guys are rockin’ I have 25 varsity cheerleaders, 19 JV, and 20 freshman cheerleaders,” Christman said. The Mustangs have 3 boys in the program, 2 of which are on varsity. Unlike most schools in the area, the boys are required to tryout just as a female student would have to tryout. “They have to jump, dance, tumble, everything else they have to do… they have to beat them,” Christman continued. The reason Christman does this is because the boys need to be just as athletic as the girls. In the past, boys have only been holding the girls and tossing them in the air, but now the boys have to jump, tumble, and hold them in the air for extended periods of time. It has become a necessity to have the boys be much more athletic. The boys are not guaranteed a spot on the team; they must earn a spot like everyone else.
There are many levels of competition. The higher the number, the more competitive it is. Kingwood always competes at level 5. The Universal Cheer Association (UCA) has a competition involving everything to do with spirit, like signs, to the crowd. The National Cheerleaders Association (NCA), which is what the Mustangs compete in, is all of what UCA does plus a performance which involves tumbling, cheering, stunts, and dance. Southlake Carrol and Coppell are always the biggest competition Kingwood faces. Coppell actually goes as far as to have a team that only competes and does not participate in football or pep rallies. During Christman’s tenure, he has led Kingwood to two national championships. The Mustangs walk in to competitions with untraditional uniforms which make them a sure standout to the rest of the squads at the competitions. Kingwood always finishes in the top 3 in competition along with these schools.
Christman likes to focus his squad on supporting Kingwood High School and all of the teams and events representing the Mustangs. “The main reason we’re here at Kingwood High School is the sendoffs: the football games, for volleyball, for basketball, if soccer wants us to cheer at a game, we’re going to go cheer there. If chess, the French Club wants us there, we’re there,” Christman stated. They even went to support the men’s soccer program when they were approached by Coach Kevin Johnson to come cheer for the boys at their playoff game outside of San Marcos, TX; so supporting the school is a priority for the cheerleading program. To go along with this, the squad also participates in community service events, mainly Habitat for Humanity, Susan G. Komen, and local food kitchens.
Before his tenure at his alma mater, Kingwood, where he graduated in 1991, Christman ran programs at Rowland Ballard Gymnastics. Even before being on the staff for the Mustangs, the cheerleaders at Kingwood would come see him at Rowland Ballard to help work with them on their tumbling. He was later approached by the administration of Kingwood at the time for possibly becoming a staff member. He was offered a position to work with the varsity team and eventually it ended with him being in charge of the whole program.
Written by Mark M. Johnson