Cheerleading squads have become an unmistakable part of the North American sporting landscape. During play stoppages, their presence is designed to keep the crowd’s energy up and enhance the overall entertainment experience of the sport. The first known cheerleaders were in 1897 when the Princeton University football team named three male students “cheer leaders.” Cheerleading has been a part of collegiate sport in North America ever since.
The University of Calgary is home to a burgeoning cheerleading program. The program has developed since its inception last year. The new squad’s tryouts are in the first week of October.
For this season, the U of C cheer team will be appearing at all Dinos men’s basketball home games.
“We started in January when we had our tryouts, and we had a chance to perform at men’s basketball games in between quarters,” said vice-president of marketing and communications for the U of C cheer team Crystal Watson. “We had 15 to 20 girls last year and we are looking at expanding. We have looked at changing the structure of our club this year.”
The team itself is differentiated. For instance, not every participant will be trying out for the dance team. There will be a group of cheerleaders assigned to the “cheer zone” for those wanting to help out with the crowd at basketball games.
The second part of the team is called the “red shirt” tier, consisting of those who are not on the actual dance team but attend practice and rehearse with the dance crew. The cheerleading dance team will be selected from the most skilled in the tryout process.
“I did cheerleading for a year in grade 10 and I have been dancing for my entire life. I came to the university and there was not a cheer team. I found this surprising and disappointing,” said Brittany Maddox, a second-year dance major and current vice-president of the team.
Maddox added that having a cheer team helps grow school spirit around campus. “As we are expanding and growing we want to be more involved and make it more exciting to come to football and basketball games,” said Maddox.
Watson also pointed out that cheerleading is not gender exclusive.
“It is open both to guys and girls,” said Watson. “We’re looking for more community opportunities this year such as volunteering with different events and promoting athletics.”
It is no secret that the U of C’s cup is not exactly running over with pep and the cheerleading team is endeavouring to remedy this shortfall. The cheerleading team is looking to become a permanent fixture around campus and wants to help bolster flagging school spirit. If the cheerleaders are successful, going to Dinos games will be a lot more exciting.