Four Very Talented Cheerleaders share their stories of what it's like to Cheer at different age levels. Thank you so much:
Julia Marinucci: Upper Moreland Cheer Academy
Zoe D'Angelo: Tohickon Middle School
Miguel Vazquez: Central Bucks South High School
and Jillian Darrah: Temple University, & since the publication of this magazine,
NOW PHILADELPHIA EAGLES CHEERLEADER!
What Cheerleading means to ME
Like some of my friends I don't come from a family of cheerleaders. It was just something my mom wanted me to try so I could cheer for my big brother at his football games. During his games I would watch the cheerleaders and immediately fell in love with the sport. I couldn't wait to put that uniform on and go cheer. I was only 5 years old when I first started cheerleading then by the age of 7 I was on an All Star Cheerleading team. After just two weeks I was already doing backflips around the house. I'm 11 now and have been cheering for 6 years and don't plan to ever stop.
It wasn't easy and you have to work really hard and stay committed. There are nights the coaches had to change routine on short notice and you had to pick it up fast but in the end it was always worth it no matter how frustrating it was. We as cheerleaders have to showcase a routine that involves jumps, tumbling, stunts and dance in two minutes and 30 seconds in front of crowds of people almost every weekend.
People ask if I get nervous, that’s a really a hard question to answer because I really don't feel nervous I'm just so excited to go out and perform with my team. While standing in a huddle waiting for them to announce us and waiting for the music to start so we can perform is when the adrenaline really kicks in. The absolute best part is walking off that mat knowing you did your very best and you look around to see people everywhere staring at you and clapping.
My advice to other girls my age who want to be a Cheerleader is always practice, work hard, stay positive and encourage your teammates to do the same. Supporting each others accomplishments will make you even more successful as a team. I'm really happy to be a part of the UMCA Elite competitive cheerleading team. I look forward to cheering for years to come.
By Julia Marinucci
By Zoe D'Angelo:
“Cheerleading isn’t a sport.” I’ve heard this all my life. Let me tell you, it is! Cheerleading requires determination, confidence, and passion to have a successful career as a cheerleader. I have a few tips and tricks for all young, beginning cheerleaders.
To become a successful cheerleader you need to have confidence in yourself. Most cheerleading routines will have some girls tumble. By tumble I mean round offs, backhand springs, back tucks. When most people see cheerleaders perform they just think they are flipping them selves around. Tumbling requires confidence because to many cheerleaders, this is the most terrifying thing. It is very scary whipping your self back and hoping your arms catch you because if they don’t, you could fall and possibly inquire yourself. If you don’t have confidence in yourself you will get something called a mental block, which not only cheerleaders get, but many other athletes as well. A mental block is when you think too much about doing something and you are scared to perform the task.
Some of my helpful hints to becoming the best cheerleader you can be are:
Hi, my name is Miguel Vazquez, I am currently a junior at Central Bucks South High School and am 17 years old. I’m a part of CB South’s Cheerleading team. I have been cheering for two years, but this is my first year cheering for South. Joining South’s cheer team has been such an amazing experience because I get to be around people who love to do the same thing as me. I began cheering in 10th grade when my best friend, Rebecca Stratz, who has been cheering since she was in 1st grade, introduced me to the sport. Once she talked to me about it, I slowly gained interest in cheer. It was hard at first, since I didn’t really know much about the sport when I joined, but after practicing and putting in hard work, I began to gain a passion for it.
One of my favorite memories is cheerleading at one of the South football games. I remember standing on the field when the crowd started chanting my name; I was so amazed and thrilled. I couldn’t have asked to be a part of a better school community. All of my family and friends have been such an amazing support, and make me strive to become better at cheerleading. My goal for the future is to cheer in college, and hopefully show others how great of a sport it is.
My cheerleading schedule is busy, but very easy some weeks. On Mondays, I have tumbling lessons at High Performance Gym, Wednesdays I have practice from 3 p.m.-5:30 p.m., and my weekends are filled with football/basketball games, and competitions.
If there are any boys out there who are interested and want to get involved in cheerleading, my advice to them is don’t be embarrassed to do something you love. If it’s your passion, then you should pursue it. It shouldn’t matter what others say, as long as you’re happy, keep doing what you love!
Original Interview with Jillian Darrah:
· How is it different cheering for college in comparison to cheering for high school?
Whether you are in high school or college, being a part of your schools cheerleading squad is a huge commitment. We do not have a season; we cheer for multiple sports teams and participate in events and fundraisers throughout the entire year. The major difference for me has been the fact that there are actually two cheerleading teams here at Temple. The Cherry squad cheers for Temple’s football games and then competes at UCA College Nationals. The White squad (the team that I am on) cheers for all men’s and women’s basketball home games. Members from both teams take turns cheering for soccer games and volleyball matches.
· What’s your favorite part about cheering?
My favorite part about cheerleading is traveling for tournaments and cheering for Philly Big 5 games. Each year, Temple travels to the American Conference Tournament, this year it is in Orlando! Any game versus a Philly team is very exciting and draws a huge crowd. Often times, these games are sold out so it is nice to have a guaranteed floor seat for a big rival match up.
· What opportunities have you received?
We have had numerous opportunities to take part in incredible fundraisers both on campus and in the Philadelphia community. Some memorable events include the Susan G Komen Race for a Cure, Fox Chase Paws-for-the-Cause and the Philalbundance Great Food Fight.
· What was is like to get as far as you did for the Eagles Cheerleaders?
Trying out for the Eagles Cheerleading team was an experience that shaped my character and defined “chasing my dreams.” From cheering for recreational sports, to my high school team, then to college, the ultimate goal would be to cheer for my cities NFL team. The tryout process was long and demanding but worth every moment of my time. Hearing my name called as I progressed past each round of cuts was an exhilarating and rewarding feeling. Having been in the cheer/ dance world since age 4, it was great to see many familiar smiles throughout the tryout process.
· How did you prepare for the tryout?
By eating healthy, getting enough sleep each night and making time in my weekly schedule to go the gym, I prepared mentally and physically for tryouts. I attend numerous group fitness classes at Temple with my friends; a fun way to work out and I feel great afterwards. Some of my favorite classes include kickboxing, barre class, Bosu boot camp and Zumba.
· What challenges do you face?
Making it to the final rounds of the competition was a challenge. By the time final auditions came around, all the girls had the skills and personalities to represent the Eagles organization. 50 beautiful ladies made it to the finals, where they announced the team that night, on stage in front of an audience full of friends, family and fans. When my name was not called, it was difficult for me because I had worked so hard and was disappointed. I am thankful for all my loved ones who came to support me, wearing “Team Jillian” t-shirts. I cannot thank them enough for cheering for me each step of the way and making me feel like a winner.
· What sacrifices do you make?
Ask any who knows me and they will tell you that I have the ultimate sweet tooth! I LOVE chocolate cookies, ice cream and brownies. For 2 months, I said goodbye to sweets/desserts and hello to fruits, vegetables and protein. Luckily, my friends, roommates and family members were very supportive of me throughout the process and kept the junk food out of my sight so I would not be tempted to indulge.
· What do you think your future holds?
I will be trying out for the Eagles Cheerleading team again this year, starting on March 5th. My goal is to do my best in the hopes to earning my place on the team this season. In the meantime, I am pursing a middle grades math and science education degree.
· What advice do you have for teens who want continue sports in college?
Do it! There is no better way to meet your true friends then to be involved in a sports team. My teammates are my family when I’m away at school. We support each other and share a common love of cheerleading. It is a huge commitment, so you have to be organized and on top of your schoolwork. Keep a personal planner and know what you have to get done each week! Get your homework done before game day so you can enjoy and hopefully celebrate a win afterwards.