Dance, cheer train hard to support fellow athletes

by Robbie LehmanStaff Writer

From an outside point of view, one may think being a cheerleader or a dancer for Simpson is all fun and games. They are always around on game day, with smiles on their faces and bows in their hair, rooting on the Storm.

It’s not all fun and games as a member of the Simpson cheer squad or dance team.

What people don’t see is that behind the scenes these young women are hard at work during the week just like any other sport. Both teams are trying hard to prove that they deserve the same amount of respect as other sports receive.

“We try to do things to gain respect from the other athletes,” senior Laura Anderson, cheer squad captain, said.

Junior Cortney Jensen, dance team co-captain, and the rest of the dancers feel the same way.

“We make sure that we are prepared and we take it seriously so that hopefully other people will take us seriously,” Jensen said. “We try to perform something that’s visually appealing.”

The teams are completely separate. They have different practice schedules and work on different types of routines. However, the teams have a great relationship and support each other during their performances.

The season for dance and cheer lasts from August to March, not quite the entire school year.

Numbers have increased for both teams, as they each have over 15 members. They practice three to five times a week, for two hours a session. The dance team learns a new routine for each home football or basketball game, while the cheer squad also comes up with new cheers as well as perfecting old ones.

Christy Christensen is the coach of both groups. She has coached the cheerleaders for four years and the dancers for three. There are several reasons the teams don’t get as much recognition as other sports, and Christensen has her own opinion on why that is.

“We don’t have opponents,” Christensen said. “In other words, we don’t have a game schedule and no wins or losses to calculate.”

Just like other athletes, these women get sore, tired and have busy schedules. Sometimes they don’t feel like practicing, but they do it because they look forward to game days for their chance to shine in front of fans.

“I like to get involved in the games,” Anderson said. “To cheer in front of a crowd is a lot of fun.”

The dance team also competes in jazz and poms at the Iowa State Dance/Drill Team Association competition, but Jensen prefers dancing at sporting events.

“I like performing for the school better,” Jensen said. “I like basketball season the best because we are closer to the fans, plus, the football field turf is hard to dance on.”

For those who think dancing or cheering is not physically demanding, think again. Besides the two hour practices, the cheer squad runs a mile each practice and began working with the strength and conditioning staff to coordinate workouts to help them get stronger and decrease the risk of injury. Another key to dancing and cheering is flexibility, which both squads work on constantly. According to Jensen, they train just as hard as other sports.

“A two minute dance routine of ours is a comparable cardio workout to a sprint,” Jensen said.

Being on the dance or cheer squad requires one to go beyond just practicing and working out though.

Each team is responsible for fundraising, such as working concession stands and putting on carwashes to earn money for their respective programs. These are not the most glorious aspects of their sports, but such is the life of a dancer or cheerleader.

Anderson has seen the amount of school spirit increase dramatically from her freshman year. As she enters her final year on the cheer squad, one memory sticks out from the rest.

When the Simpson men’s basketball team opened their season with an exhibition game at the University of Iowa, the squad got to travel and cheer in Carver Hawkeye Arena. They even received a compliment from new Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter.

So whether people realize it or not, there is much more to the life of a Simpson cheerleader or dancer. Fans don’t see all the hard work that they put in during the week, only the finished product on game day that the women are proud to show off.