Blur, cheerleaders, and confused cowboys–they don’t just go woo hoo

By Julie Boulton

My payback for beating Chris last week was an assignment covering the Dinosaurs cheerleading tryouts: something I am just so suited to, given I don’t have blond hair, I own no make-up and my build is more suited to those playing on the field than those cheering about it (which posed a slight problem when it came to wearing the required rah-rah skirts).

But in the true spirit of investigative journalism, I put on my tightest top, applied some borrowed glossy lipstick, grabbed my pom-poms and danced my way over to the gymnasium for the University of Calgary cheerleading auditions.

As you have probably realised, I was fully expecting to write an article paying out on the cheerleaders. In fact, I was licking my lips at the prospect of sadistically slamming the cheerleaders because I’m from Australia and we don’t like cheerleaders-I couldn’t leave the tall poppy syndrome at home.

Although some of the traditional cheerleader stereotypes-like possessing a slight ego (the application form states: ‘You are a cheerleader and you can do anything!’) and some mind-numbing cheers (‘Red and White. Let’s fight!’) wailed ad nauseum-did apply, after trying out for the team and listening to what the girls had to say, I have been forced to alter my attitude (and my article).

I discovered that cheerleading requires a phenomenal level of skill. To successfully complete stunts such as the "straddle," involving a base of three cheerleaders supporting one in the splits position above their heads, whilst rooting boisterously, and maintaining a saucy smile, a certain degree of athletic ability is required.

But it was the demeanour of the cheerleaders I found most impressive. Over the past three years, the squad has cheered the Dinos in football, basketball and volleyball, but their reception has rarely been favourable, let alone supportive. In fact, it has been so unfriendly the team is disbanding due to lack of interest.

Despite such adversity, the cheerleaders remain committed to supporting their school. Lee Duong, captain of the now-defunct team, believes cheerleaders represent what the university spirit should be.

"It’s your team. It’s your university. If you’re there you want your team to win, but playing is from the heart and everybody knows that," explained Duong. "As a cheerleader, it’s my role to get the school pumped. It makes you feel proud when you know your cheering helped your team win."

Auditioning for the team, I found out the truth: Cheerleaders are not on the field to simply yell "woo hoo." They are there to embody the spirit and pride of a university, which is what university sports are all about.

I say, bring back the heart of U of C.

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