Cheering up the crowd from the sidelines

by Dustin Smothers

College games can be a spectacle – the atmosphere gets heartspumping and adrenaline rushing. Cheerleaders play an important rolein building the excitement at an athletic event.

“They are there to support the athletic program by getting thecrowd involved,” said head cheerleading coach Debra Lord. “Theyshow great school spirit … and just add to the atmosphere.”

According to Lord, cheerleading isn’t easy.

“We spend a lot of time on strength and conditioning as well aspracticing two to three times a week,” Lord said.

The 20-member team has practiced at least four times a weekrecently to prepare for Homecoming.

Junior team captain Erin Disney said one of the challenges ofcheering is performing stunts.

“Anyone can do cheers, but it takes someone special to dostunts,” Disney said.

Lord said the team will have six stuntmen for Homecoming thisyear. These men practice with the team two to three times a week,and primarily help the cheerleaders with aerial stunts.

“Any man can hold her hand but it takes an elite to hold herfeet,” Lord said.

The cheerleaders are exploring new territory this year. Lordsaid a competition squad will travel around the Midwest for thefirst time this year.

Disney is pleased with the success of the squad.

“It’s been a good year,” said Disney. “We’ve had higher numbersof girls and guys.”