Cheerleaders support fellow athletes year-round

Cheerleaders stunt at a basketball game. (Ahmad Abusaad/ The Penn)

Don’t let the pom-poms fool you.

While the Crimson Hawk cheerleaders may make what they do look easy on the court or on the field, not many people know how much work it takes to audition and make it onto the team.

In order to make the Indiana Univer­sity of Pennsylvania Cheerleading team, there are a couple steps to go through, according to cheerleader Sara Vrancik (freshman, fashion), who has been com­petitively cheerleading since she was in third grade.

The journey begins with tryouts.

“There are three cuts,” Vrancik said. “You have to learn a band dance, a cheer, know what position you can do when it comes to stunting and when it comes to tumbling be able to do a running tuck, which is a backflip with no hands.”

After the team has been formed, practice starts.

Practices are rigorous in the beginning of the season during the football preseason, but once into basketball season, practices are only once a week with optional tumbling on Mondays.

The cheerleaders also practice. during halftime to perfect the routine they are about to do in the second half of the game.

Each practice consists of learning new cheers, perfecting old ones and practicing stunts.

The team knows a total of about 30 cheers.

The football season is a kickstart for cheerleaders. This is the first chance they get to showcase their hard work during preseason.

The girls all agreed that football and basketball season differ considerably.

“Football is exciting because it’s a start of a new cheerleading season, where basketball is exciting because the cheerleaders are expected to keep the fans’ spirits up more,” Maeve Wilson (senior, early childhood) said.

Lea Ivanoff (freshman, computer science), who has also been cheering since she was in third grade, said her fa­vorite part about being on the team is that they’re a real family.

“We hang out all the time, and whenever there’s a problem, it’s solved right then and there and dropped,” Ivanoff said.

Even as they talk, one can see the obvious chemistry and friendship between the girls as they finish each other’s sentences.

Vrancik said, “Its sort of like a free-for-all … ”

“… like an organized free-for-all,” Ivanoff corrected, as the two girls simultaneously explained the captain’s and co-captain’s roles in telling the girls what to do during the games.

Cheerleading offers a different per­spective on sports events for some of the team members.

“It’s a different experience being on the track or on the court, than being in the stands all the time,” Vrancik said.

Lynette Larssen (freshman, market­ing) also explained what she likes most about being on the team.

“It’s nice feeling a part of something and being involved – like you belong,” Larssen said.

Cheerleader Richard Denson (fresh­man, undeclared) said that one of his favorite parts of cheerleading is meeting a bunch of new people, which is what happens at tryouts.

Tryouts begin April 5, and this year a standing handspring is required for all who want to try out.

Renee Williamson also contributed to writing this article.