Although the cheer team is not out there on the gridiron or dribbling the ball up and down the court in Taper Gymnasium, its presence is a welcome constant to the ups-and-downs of a sports season.
Cheerleaders have to train just like the football players or basketball players that they cheer for every game. Similarly to the football team, the team takes part in training camps, and has to wake up early and stay late for practice.
“Like athletes in any other sport, we train,” Mollie Berger ’16 said. “We are a little bit different from other sports because we have two seasons — basketball and football. The first time we start working as a team is usually in July when we go to a four day, intense, cheer training camp. We meet back up in August. We practice three days a week, two hours a day, beginning at 7:00 am.”
Sometimes the travel schedule and practice schedule can be overbearing, especially during the basketball and football seasons.
“What most people don’t know is sometimes our practices start after everyone else’s have ended, around 5:30,” Berger said. “Basketball season is a little different because the games can be any day of the week. We fit in practices when we can, but sometimes we have many games in one week. I have had weeks where I have four basketball games. In addition to normal practices and games, we fit in times for extra practices, especially around homecoming, and spend some time almost every week painting our ‘run through’ banner. So, to the person not in the program I think it’s hard to know how much time and effort we truly put in.”
Due to the amount of tricks and stunts that cheerleaders do, their bodies aren’t immune to possible injuries, which means that they have to train rigorously to avoid getting hurt.
“Like any other sport, we have our fair share of injuries and like any other sport, we condition our bodies to make us better athletes,” Berger said. “A portion of what we do involves lifting people over our heads and that can be taxing because we can spend two to three continuous hours practicing our stunts.”
Through the tough practices, and because of a lot of time spent together, the cheerleaders believe that they form a bond that transcends their sport, no matter how tough it gets.