Cheerleaders Get Crowd Roaring for Football
Gia Mazur , Staff Writer
October 9, 2012
Filed under Sports
Senior Amber Schmidt has been an MU cheerleader since her freshman year. Schmidt has attended practices, tumbling classes and cheerleading camps in addition to cheering at every basketball game and competing in every team competition. This year Schmidt is a captain, along with senior Alyssa McEntee and junior Sarah Richard.
Unlike her fellow captains, Schmidt had never before cheered at a football game.
“Unless you want to count my peewee football cheerleading days,” Schmidt said, laughing.
Schmidt chose to be a basketball cheerleader at Scranton High School, and dedicated herself to cheering for that sport even when football cheering was an option. Schmidt said MU cheerleading consists of one team for both sports and that football games are “a different atmosphere.”
“Being outside, our bodies have to get used to the cold while cheering instead of in a warm gym,” she said.
Schmidt also said that the team had to learn new material. The team learned a fight song dance and four different band dances for football games during their time at the Universal Cheerleading Association’s cheerleading camp at the University of Scranton this summer. The team also is allowed to perform stunts during football games that they cannot perform during basketball season due to NCAA rules. For example, basket tosses are prohibited in a gym, but the team can perform them on the track. The crowd is enthusiastic about these more daring stunts and the cheerleaders in general, said Schmidt.
“We are directly in front of the crowd the whole game, so when we start our callback cheers, the crowd joins in,” she said. “The fans are really supportive.”
Freshman Brittany Delancey, who likewise never cheered for football, also enjoys the crowd participation. Delancey was a wrestling cheerleader for four years at Elk Lake Juniro Senior High School and likes that she gets to move around to pump up the crowd.
“We just sat there for wrestling. Football cheerleading is a lot more crowd-friendly,” said Delancey. “It’s more fun and [because football began earlier] we’ve had more time to bond and get to know each other.”
Schmidt agrees that an early season benefits both her physical strength and the team’s dynamic.
The cheerleaders worked together during their time at UCA cheerleading camp in early August and returned to school a week later for preseason practice. By the first football game, they were already in shape for the season and in sync with each other.
“By starting the season early, we are hitting skills as a team for our routine now, rather than in late October or early November,” said Schmidt.
The team practices four times a week during the regular season. Monday nights are tumbling class, when the team works with an instructor and regular coaching staff to increase tumbling skills. Outside of practice, the team has conditioning sessions throughout the week. Schmidt said that the new training was added to the program to give the cheerleaders in shape.
“Being stronger, you are more confident with yourself and your teammates because you know their bodies are able to handle the wear and tear,” said Schmidt. “We work out as a team so each girl sees the hard work.”
Team bonding is crucial, said Schmidt, and she hopes it will lead to greater success. The team is ranked fifth in the nation, the highest ever. The team will attend UCA Nationals in Walt Disney World during winter break.
“It’s an indescribable feeling to know you just went out there and gave it your all with the girls you consider your sisters,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said that cheerleaders are recognized as athletes at MU and she, along with her fellow captains, say they are grateful for their dedicated coaching staff. , Schmidt believes changes to the program were for the best.
“I have seen with my own eyes the growth of the program in the four years I have been here,” she said. “We saw how much heart, motivation, and determination each one of us had. We became a cheer family.”