Though cheerleading typically evokes images of mini-skirts and pompoms, the athleticism, finesse and strength encapsulated within the sport of cheer is widely recognized, particularly at the collegiate level.
As the stunts require focus and attention, the physical demand and technical skills involve commitment, dedication and teamwork—much like any other sport.
Pierce College’s 2011-2012 cheer squad consists of eight women and three men. Their season starts in the fall and continues through winter quarter. They cheer at both men and women’s home basketball games, often performing during halftime.
With cheer, often the greatest strength comes from getting out of one’s comfort zone and having the ability to adapt and to try new things.
Though the team doesn’t travel, they see each other outside of practices and games at their team bonding sessions. At least once a month the team will go to dinner, the movies, bowling or another activity to build the camaraderie and relationships they have invested with each other.
“I love my team,” said cheerleader and Pierce College student Patrick Tomlinson. “We each bring a certain quality to the team that makes us one big family.”
The team practices two times a week for four hours as well as an additional two hours prior to the games. They individually create personal goals to achieve by the end of practice and as a team, they commit to group goals involving bigger stunts and more intricate dancing.
Captain Brittany Jarman explains that the primary difference between high school and collegiate cheer is the elaborate stunts that are most often illegal at the high school level. She continued saying at the collegiate level, there is a greater level of maturity and a different mentality.
Tomlinson’s favorite aspect of cheering is the end result.
“People don’t understand how much we put our bodies through with the blood, sweat and tears of throwing the perfect stunt,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson and the rest of the Pierce College cheer squad strive to get the best out of the community by reaching out, providing entertainment and getting fans excited and enthused for the game while doing something they all love and enjoy.
If interested in cheering for Pierce, Jarman recommends contacting coach Danyelle Bennest through the Pierce College website. Tryouts are held before summer as well as in September before school starts. The entire squad wears their uniforms on game days to show their pride and support to the community.
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