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Top>People>First female member of the traditional Cheering Club at Chuo University


Ms. Mai Fuki

Ms. Mai Fuki

First female member of the traditional Cheering Club at Chuo University

Ms. Mai Fuki
First Year Student in the Faculty of Letters

The first female member in the history of the Cheering Club has emerged at Chuo University, which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2010. That leader is Ms. Mai Fuki, a first year student in the Faculty of Letters. Ms. Fuki overcame the hardships of summer training camp and made her debut at Jingu Stadium during an autumn league game of the hardball baseball team. We got to know the real Ms. Fuki, who is normally just your average female student.

Her ponytail goes well with her student uniform

Her ponytail bounces on the high-standing collar of her student uniform. She waves her arms, raises her voice, and has no chance to rest for over 2 hours, beginning before the start of the game and continuing until the final play. Her voice goes raw and sweat pours from her brow. Her movements are full of vigor and are no different from the older male students who are members of the cheering club. Few people notice that she is a female student.

On September 5th, at Jingu Stadium, Ms. Fuki made her debut at the opening game of the Tohto University Baseball Autumn League. The game was held on a Saturday, and the number of Chuo University supporters and alumni who came to cheer was greater than normal. Mr. Kazuyuki Nagai, Chancellor and President of Chuo University, also came to support the team.

Standing on the leader's platform at Jingu Stadium

Chuo University had surrendered two runs to Aoyama Gakuin University and was preparing to go to bat in the bottom of the 7th inning. At that moment, Ms. Fuki was ordered to stand on the leader's platform by Mr. Manabu Ouchi, Director of the Cheering Club. Ms. Fuki says that she had no idea that she would be taking the leader's platform that day. She suddenly became nervous at the unexpected call for her to lead.

It is unusual for a first year student to stand on the leader's platform, which is installed in front row of the stands. Facing the rows of Chuo University supporters sitting in the stands, Ms. Fuki followed the routine that she had been taught by the older students. With all of her energy, she waved her arms and performed steps with her feet. Her routine must have brought success to the team. That inning, Chuo University scored a run and the stands overflowed with energy.

Being a member of the Cheering Club is thought of as very tiring and hard work. Even male students hesitate to enter the club. Why did Ms. Fuki decide to join?

Knocking on the door without knowing what a cheering club is...

"Since there was no cheering club at my high school, I had absolutely no idea what a cheering club was." This was the unexpected answer given by Ms. Fuki. "I didn't participate in any clubs or activities during my time in high school."

Ms. Fuki wanted to enter a club or circle in university. After entering Chuo University, she took advantage of welcoming events for new students and toured clubs such as the Brass Band Club, the Archery Club, and the Golf Club. However, Ms. Fuki was still unable to decide upon an activity even at the start of June, a time when most other students had begun to participate in clubs. Ms. Fuki felt that she needed to quickly decide upon a club activity, and she soon encountered a poster of the Cheering Club that advertised the recruitment of new members.

"I wanted to enjoy my youth during my time as a university student." This lighthearted feeling was the reason that Ms. Fuki entered the Cheering Club without knowing what kind of club it was. However, upon her first visit to the Cheering Club, she was asked by an older student if she wanted to become the club manager. Ms. Fuki answered the question with a firm "no".

Ms. Fuki's mother supported her daughter's decision to enter the Cheering Club without reservation. Ms. Fuki waited awhile to discuss the subject with her father, whose reaction was "Well.that's unusual, isn't it?!"

Meals were the hardest part of summer training camp

The Cheering Club is very strict about manners, and Ms. Fuki says that members are taught a variety of manners. For example, when called, members must answer with the word osu! When greeting an older student, younger students say "XX senpai, chiwāsu" (in Japanese, senpai is a term of respect for superiors and chiwāsu is a way of saying "good afternoon"). Finally, when receiving something from an older student, younger students must use polite Japanese and answer "Thank you very much. I shall gratefully accept what you have offered."

Many of these words and phrases are different from language used in ordinary life as a university student. "I felt some resistance to the strange way of speaking at first," says Ms. Fuki. "I mean, why do we have to say osu? But now, I naturally answer osu when called."

At the end of August, Ms. Fuki participated in the summer training camp for the Cheering Club. There are currently 6 members of the Cheering Club. Fifteen alumni came to the training camp to give instruction on topics such as movement during cheering. "There are a lot of alumni who are in their 50s and 60s. The Cheering Club has particularly strong ties with its alumni," says Ms. Fuki, who felt the depth of feeling between alumni, older students and younger students at the summer training camp.

"Meals were the hardest part of summer training camp," says Ms. Fuki with a serious expression. "There was an unreasonably large amount of white rice in our lunches." The lunch boxes were large and there was a lot of space for white rice. Ms. Fuki had to eat box lunches that were the size that male students eat, and she had to eat them within the same time period as male students. "I thought there was no way that I could eat so much white rice," laughs Ms. Fuki. "It was a really tough experience!"

An experience useful as an adult in society

Members of the Cheering Club build basic physical strength during practice. Members always do 30 pushups, something which Ms. Fuji dislikes. They also do V-shaped sit-ups while singing the school song. V-shaped sit-ups are done by raising both legs and then forming a "V" by raising the upper body. These sit-ups are difficult for female students.

Ms. Fuki entered the Cheering Club, experienced summer camp, and made her debut at Jingu Stadium. Her goal is to ensure the continuation of Cheering Club activities. Currently, Ms. Fuki is the only member who is a first year student. Although faced with responsibility, she expresses her strong determination with the following statement: "I believe that my experiences in the Cheering Club will be useful when I enter society as an adult. Therefore, I intend to give my utmost effort in the activities."