Cheerleading: ‘More than looking cute and wearing a skirt’

Tatyana Reed

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UACHS seniors Ajah Ricardo, Thara Dambreville and Imani White pose with other Lincoln cheerleaders. Several UACHS students cheer for other high schools that have cheerleading teams. Photo by Tatyana Reed

UACHS seniors Ajah Ricardo, Thara Dambreville and Imani White pose with other Lincoln cheerleaders. Several UACHS students cheer for other high schools that have cheerleading teams. Photo by Tatyana Reed

Cheerleading, of course, requires strong spirit and physical stamina, but for University Academy students who cheer, it can also mean putting up with being called a traitor.

“When we went against University in basketball, my school kept calling me a traitor,” said senior Merrill McCord, who cheers for Lincoln High School. “I’ve always wanted to cheer, so the little stuff that happens really didn’t affect me.”

Senior Imani White, who cheers for Lincoln, said cheering for her was physically hard at first.

“It was very tiring; whenever we got a cheer wrong, we had to run laps which really didn’t help us,” White said. “Going on the team was nerve wracking for me because coming from a different school was hard for me; I thought they would treat me different because I didn’t really belong there.”

However, according to White, the team treated her as if she “were their own.”

Freshman Shaniya James, who cheers for Snyder High School, said she has learned important things from cheerleading.

“I learned to respect my peers, teamwork and [that] there’s a time and place to do everything,” James said.

Cheerleaders always need to have a positive spirit, James said.

“You should be able to turn your bad day good once you enter practice. Being a cheerleader is more than looking cute and wearing a skirt,” James said. “To me it’s my world; without cheering I wouldn’t be who I [am] today.”

According to sophomore Janiyah Taylor, who also cheers for Snyder, cheering for another school opens opportunities to meet people.

“Before I cheered for Snyder, I didn’t know as many people as [I] do now,” Taylor said.

Sophomore D’Nashia Baisden, who cheers for Ferris High School, said anyone who wants to be a cheerleader needs to be “dedicated.”

“Make sure it’s something you strongly want to do,” Baisden said. “Have a positive attitude and form a bond with all the girls on the team.”

Spanish teacher Anais Ortega attempted to start a cheerleading squad in 2013; however, the school didn’t have all the correct materials, Ortega said.

“We had to write a written agreement for the [school’s] board [of trustees] and it was too short notice because the basketball season was starting,” Ortega said. “Also we had to get a stipend for it, and we didn’t know if the school had the money for that and other equipment.”

According to Ortega, she would “like to make another cheer team in the near future. We would have to do the same thing we needed to do before and also raise money.”

Athletic director Michele Bruce said that creating a cheerleading team hasn’t been a topic of discussion this year.

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