Athlete of the Week – Melissa Novak

This week’s Athlete of the Week is senior communication major, Melissa Novak. Melissa serves as the secretary on the executive board of Michigan State Pompon. To learn more about Melissa and the Michigan State Pompon club, check out the MSU Pompon episode of Secret Society!

Michigan State Pompon is a club sport that just recently placed third in the High Kick Championship after seven consecutive wins.


What is Pompon, and what reaction do you get from people when you tell them you are on the pom team?

“Pompon is very technical and requires timing, formations, precise movements, and muscle. When I tell people I am on the pompon team I usually get the response, ‘You are on the football field, right?’ We are strictly competitive and train year-round for two competitions. Most people think that pompon means that I am on the cheer or dance team, when in reality our sports are all completely different. Each one requires a different skill set and the only way to truly understand the difference would be to watch one of our videos.”

How did it feel placing in another High Kick Championship?  How did you guys come up with that “300” routine?  

“Our ‘Spartan Strong’ 300 routine was actually an idea that our head coach, Linda Conradi, has had for many years. She felt that this was the year to use this theme, and I am honored as a team member and fourth-year senior that I am on the team that was able to add this performance to the MSU Pompon legacy. I have loved all of our previous themes and routines, but this one was extra special for us. The pride that comes from being a Spartan, a leader and more importantly a strong individual is what fueled our performance. We poured our hearts into practice in hopes that we would make Spartan Nation proud. We received third place at the competition, but one thing that I have learned from our program is that placing does not matter. This routine was bigger than just one day for us. We made this routine for ourselves, for our school, and for Spartans everywhere. We will always remember the feeling of the standing ovation as we walked off the floor, the tears after that came from our pride for our university and the overwhelming support and recognition we have been receiving from Spartans.”

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?

“Last year at High Kick our theme was french maids. We surprised the audience by pulling green feather dusters out of our skirts during the routine. About halfway through mine flew out of my hand and landed on the ground next to me. I was able to pick it up and keep going, but I still cringe every time I watch it!”

It’s 2 a.m. on a weekend and you’re just getting home.  What food are you ordering?

“Jimmy John’s. If you haven’t put their chips on your sandwich then you are doing it all wrong.”

What do you want to be when you grow up?

“Not to be cheesy, but my hope is to be as good of a person as my dad. He truly embodies what it means to be a Spartan and I look up to him for that.”

What is your all-time favorite movie?

“I absolutely love the Iron Man movies. I hope that doesn’t make me a huge nerd!”

What song pumps you up most when you are warming up?

“As a team, we have a whole playlist of pump-up songs from Type of Way by Rich Homie Quan to Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects. For me personally, I would have to say that my favorite pump-up song is Lose Yourself by Eminem.”

If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be and why?

“I am obsessed with my puppy at home, so I wish that I had her at school!”

What is your guilty pleasure TV show?

“Blue Mountain State. It cracks me up!”

What is something most people would not know/expect about you?

“I own too many baseball hats for my own good. I usually am wearing one everyday.”

If you had to play a different sport at Michigan State, what would it be?

“MSU Football. They are just so cool and I want to be friends with [Mark] Dantonio.”


Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the next Athlete of the Week feature.

Bradley Allen is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.