by Cailey Wright
Photos by Brayden Varnado
Saturdays at the Vet would feel different if the cheerleaders weren’t throwing their stunts and hyping up the crowd.
Even though they play a pivotal role on game day, most of their hard work is executed outside of the stadium. According to Carsen Arrant, a senior psychology major from Jay, Florida, they practice three days a week for three hours, and they have workouts twice a week.
However, that is only the work they put in for football season. Like any other sport, the cheer team prepares for competition season.
As a result, most of their Christmas break is spent with their squad. Arrant said her teammates will always be there for her no matter how tough these practices might get.
“One lesson I have learned is that even when things seem like they won’t get better and the bad day just keeps getting worse, if you surround yourself with great teammates, they will help you get through anything and there is always a silver lining,” Arrant said.
The Oxford dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Jamia Jones, a senior exercise science pre-health major from Phenix City, Alabama, states cheering is a sport that takes dedication.
“Everyone has their own opinion about cheerleading being a sport, but it is just like any other sport,” Jones said. “It is a sport due to physical contact of lifting people in the air, having trust in your teammates, working out, and countless hours of practice.”
In the past, being a cheerleader was considered a feminine activity, so boys were often encouraged to pursue traditionally masculine sports. That leads to women entering the collegiate level with a decent skill set while the men have to learn new things in a short span of time.
Nic Laracuente, Troy University’s head cheer coach, started cheering in college and said the competitive nature of the sport was what drove him to increase his skill set.
“It was one of those things where I wanted to get better just like in any other sport and win a national championship,” Laracuente said. “Whether it is football or wrestling or cheerleading, being competitive and realizing how competitive it is was always the thing that drew me into wanting to get better.”
Laracuente said that in his 15 years of coaching experience one thing that never changes is the drive of his cheerleaders.
“One thing that always remains the same is the athlete’s ability to always want to get better in a sport that is growing,” Laracuente said. “I have watched them grow and realize how much better they can be in a month or in a day if they work tremendously.”