Tune in to any teen sitcom and you’ll quickly spot the stereotypical portrayal of a cheerleader. Blonde and ditzy are some of the words that come to mind when evaluating this character.
In reality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth — just ask any member of the University of New Brunswick’s Reds cheerleading squad.
The 16-member team will be kicking off their competitive season this weekend, and are hoping to continue their winning ways.
“We’ve been working hard in practice for the past few months,” explained Shannon Lilly, team vice-president and a third-year veteran of the Reds. “One of our best days so far was our choreography day where we learned our routine for the first time. It was great to pull together all of what we had learned so far this year and see how it developed into a full routine.”
Lilly admits that it can be frustrating to hear people say that cheerleading isn’t a sport.
“A lot of people don’t realize that competitive cheerleading isn’t the same as what you see during NFL/NBA games, and that’s all they think we do. Reds cheerleading isn’t like that at all.
“Cheer is such hard work and really is a full-body workout,” explained Lilly. “In a two-and-a-half-minute routine there’s several stunting sequences, jumps, tumbling and dance. You’re lifting, running, dancing, flipping, getting thrown or throwing people, and more.”
She also emphasized the feelings of closeness and trust that have developed amongst the team’s members.
“All of this is part of why cheerleading should be considered a sport. We work hard, love each other, and love what we do just as much as any other sports team.”
Lilly also dispelled the theory that physical attractiveness can determine the success of a cheerleading squad.
“How attractive someone is has nothing to do with how good of a cheerleader they can become,” she said. “Having a good work ethic and being a team player are the two variables that play the biggest role.
“The only things that need to ‘look good’ are the motions you do throughout the routine. This just means that all body positions and movements need to be sharp and neat, so the routine looks clean.”
Lilly went on to address the negative perception that many individuals have of the sport and its participants, citing the classic stereotypes of “dumb” and “easy.”
“A lot of people think that we don’t work hard and spend all our time dancing around in pretty formations. Another misconception that I’ve heard is that all cheerleaders are snobby, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Lilly lauds her team members for being positive contributors to their community, saying “they’re smart, driven, athletic, kind and willing to work hard in order to succeed.”
Just like any other student-athlete at UNB, the Reds cheerleaders are eager to represent the university at a competitive level. The team will be competing this weekend in Saint John and on March 27 in Halifax. They will be hosting their home competition on April 17.
“We’re incredibly excited to finally show the public what we’ve been working on,” said Lilly.
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