The Truth About Cheer

Photo taken my Chungman Photography, taken in 2018, some rights reserved,

While growing up, children are constantly trying new things. For most boys and girls, it’s sports like soccer or football. As they get older, they begin to develop a passion for what they do. They work day and night to get better. They condition their bodies and train until they are weary. They get noticed by scouts or the head coach of a D1 college. Sooner or later, they receive a full-ride scholarship to a school that they have always dreamed of. What if I said that Cheerleaders did the same amount of work for a fraction of the reward?

Being a competitive cheerleader is a commitment that very few people understand. I have been a cheerleader for 11 years. To most, it seems like all we do is wave our hands around and yell “Go team!” There is a whole other side to the sport that no one sees. 

There are three types of Cheerleaders. The sideline, school competition, and travel team cheerleaders. They include different things. Growing up, I and almost everyone I knew, took part in all three. 

In sideline cheer, we practice on average once a week to make sure we know the cheers and the band dances. On Friday nights, we cheer for the varsity football team. It’s fun. It always made me feel like I am involved in my school.

In school competition cheer, we practice on average five days a week. The practices usually run for two hours, whether it is six in the morning or four o’clock in the afternoon. It begins in the summer. We get a routine and we practice every day to make sure that it is perfect. To condition our bodies we run mile after mile until we can’t. A routine is two minutes and thirty seconds. I know it sounds crazy.

“Why would you practice that often just for a short routine?”

I get this question a lot. I can see why people ask. We do it because we know how much work has to go into a routine just to make sure we don’t mess up. 

On a travel team, we practice on average four days a week. There are many gyms in Georgia. I attend a gym in Marietta. So, four days a week my friends and I drive an hour and a half to practice. We work on our routine. We stunt and tumble for hours. We push ourselves more and more throughout our season. 

A typical week in my life includes about seventeen hours of cheer, not including the games on Friday. This goes on from May to November. I love what I do. For the most part, I can handle all of it, but there are days when I feel like I can’t anymore.

My body is aching, the exhaustion has hit, and I can barely find time to study. This is normal for most athletes. The football players get an offer to college. The baseball players get to perform in front of scouts. They do all the work to be recognized. 

Cheerleading is not widely supported by most colleges. We do not get looked at by scouts. We do not receive full-ride scholarships even though, we have worked our whole life.

So people ask, why are we doing this? Why should we continue this if it’s hard?

“I have done cheer for all this time because I create so many friendships and it helps to keep me motivated. The feeling of all your hard work paying off, in the end, is the best feeling. I have learned many life lessons from sport” Samantha Bailey stated. 

Sammie does three teams as well. She and many other cheerleaders could say the same thing. 

“Even though it’s unlikely to receive full-ride scholarships and to be truly recognized like other athletes, I would not trade this experience for anything,” Sammie said. 

Although we cannot go to college specifically for cheer, there are ways to receive small amounts of money. There are certain requirements to be meant.

“Colleges don’t recruit for cheerleading as zealously as they do for many other sports, but some schools do offer scholarships or smaller perks for cheerleaders,” says the article Do Colleges Recruit Cheerleaders as They do Other Athletes? By Sally Rubenstone. 

Cheerleaders have to attend tryouts and go through a number of steps just to be on a college cheerleading team. There is no such thing as instant recruitment in the cheer world. There is a list of colleges that do offer money and small scholarships that go along with an athlete’s GPA. 

As an insider to the sport, I could give you many reasons as to why I do it and why there are thousands of girls that do it even though the perks are unlike the rest of the sports. Cheer is self-rewarding. It develops confidence within a person. I and many others have created friendships, life skills, and motivation to become better. We do it for the love of it, and that will forever be enough.