Cheerleaders are some of the most iconic figures in American culture. From the pom waving, sweater-wearing Sandra Dee in the cult classic Grease to the chic, no-nonsense stunting competitors of contemporary national championship squads, cheerleaders are America’s darlings. Do not let the skirts, glitter and cheer bows fool you—cheerleading is a tough sport, challenging even the most advanced athletes. If you are thinking of going out for the squad, there are a few things to consider upfront.
Cheerleading is a lifestyle.
You cannot limit this sport to a few hours each week. Unlike other athletes, cheerleaders do not have a specific season that starts and stops; it is a year-round commitment with camps and competitions in addition to cheering at games. The positive to this point is that the friends that are made during cheerleading years are strong and have the potential to last a lifetime.
Cheerleading is physically challenging.
While it may not be a contact sport like basketball or soccer, cheerleading has a high physical demand. Many cheerleaders participate in cross-training activities like running sprints, lifting weights, and jumping rope to get game and competition ready. Cheerleaders also do not get a “half time” break; expect to be on your feet, cheering and moving, for two to three hours at a time at school functions. Cheerleaders are often in excellent shape, though, and maintain that fitness in the years that follow.
Cheerleading can get expensive.
Any organized sport generally comes with a price tag, and cheerleading is no exception. Between uniforms, warm-ups, and practice cheerleading clothes, the expenses can add up quickly. Add in cheer camp costs and any extra events, and it can be a commitment that ends up taking a toll of several hundred dollars. The good news is that most squads schedule several fundraisers every year to help ease the cost to cheerleaders and parents. Taking small jobs babysitting, dog walking, or even raking leaves can help raise funds for the sport. You can also consider asking for contributions from friends and family members instead of birthday and Christmas gifts. The cost should never deter you from participation but should be something to simply take into consideration so you are not surprised down the road.
Cheerleading is evolving.
The sport has made tremendous strides in the past decade and continues to change its look. It is no longer just about smiles and pom-poms. Cheerleaders are not only representatives for their schools; they are ambassadors for the sport as a whole. Your input and hard work have the potential to influence the future of the sport, making it a very exciting time to be a cheerleader.