Sirany brings passion and high energy to Tiger’s Lair

Tiger’s Lair director Veronica DeStefano and Campus Activities Coordinator Kaci Drennan said at first they were unsure of Rachel Sirany, but after the first game, they think she is off to a good start.
MU student Rachel Sirany cheers for Mizzou at the Tiger’s Lair section of Faurot Field Sept. 5, 2015, during the Missouri Tigers game against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks. Sirany became the first female spirit chair for Tiger’s Lair, the official student cheering section for the MU football team.

Rachel Sirany said she understands why women would hesitate to apply for a the spirit chair of Tiger’s Lair.

“If a girl hasn’t done something before, it’s kind of hard to picture yourself there,” she said. “When you see two large men running around on the field, it’s kind of hard for girls to imagine themselves being there, too.”

Rachel Sirany is one of few women to serve as spirit chair for the official student cheering section for the football team.

“I really fell in love with SEC football once I came to Mizzou,” she said. “I wasn’t too into it before, but I’m definitely a No. 1 fan now.”

Tiger’s Lair director Veronica DeStefano and Campus Activities Coordinator Kaci Drennan chose Sirany for the position at the end of last spring semester. Sirany was a Tiger’s Lair coordinator at the time and was eligible to apply for a chair position.

DeStefano and Drennan were initially unsure of what position to give Sirany because they did not know where her passion was. When they asked her what position she preferred, she surprised them.

“She said she really wanted to be spirit chair and would take it really seriously,” DeStefano said. “She said she would devote all her time to Tiger’s Lair this year.”

DeStefano said that she and Drennan doubted whether Sirany’s voice would have enough of a boom to successfully get the Lair’s attention, but Sirany convinced them to appoint her.

Women are not new to Tiger’s Lair leadership positions, as there have been female directors in the past before DeStefano. Women have also served as spirit chairs, though less frequently. Morgan Barton, now an MU graduate, received the position in 2011.

Sirany said that her attire for the position, a sports bra and shorts, does not encourage women to apply because such exposure could potentially lead to body-shaming. She said she felt that DeStefano and Drennan were supportive of her desire to be spirit chair.

“Obviously, they wanted to make an equal selection and not pick me just because I was a girl,” Sirany said. “But they didn’t want to not pick me because I was a girl.”

Sirany and her co-chair, Jared Burge, are responsible for keeping the students in Tiger’s Lair excited and energized during home football games.

“We run around, get them pumped and start chants,” she said. “We keep the energy up, even if it’s not the height of the game.”

The spirit chairs also remind the student section of MU football traditions, such as waving fingers during kickoffs and shaking keys during the opposing team’s third down.

Burge, who is spirit chair for the second year in a row, said there is no real difference between having a male co-chair and a female one.

“We just try to be wild and crazy and have fun,” he said.

A junior from Minnesota, Sirany is a journalism major who worked with MUTV last year. She is a STRIPES driver and a member of Kappa Delta sorority.

Sirany shows that no matter your gender, anyone can be a fan of football, DeStefano said.

“The NFL has made it so that you can be a ‘girl fan’ with pink jerseys, but here you can just be fans, not boy fans and girl fans,” DeStefano said. “(Rachel) is out there with Jared, doing exactly what he’s doing.”

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