By Jeff Rhineer
Cheerleaders are mostly seen on the sideline, but they also take center stage in their own competitions. If you think cheerleading is just pompoms and sideline cheers, think again.
The All-Women Squad at Southwest Texas State University doesn’t just compete, they win national titles.
“We’re just as competitive as [athletes] are. I hate that persona that cheerleaders are just spirit squad. And we’re not. We’re athletes just as much as they are. We lift and tumble and everything. Muscles and strength just as much as they are, if not more,” SWT cheerleader Missy De Luna said.
It takes a lot of training. They start two-a-days in June and their intense workouts lead up to nationals in January.
“You cannot even imagine what you feel like after finishing a nationals routine. It’s two minutes and fifteen seconds of just pure strength and power that comes from our legs our arms everything keeping tight. It’s amazing and so much conditioning is the part to complete such a routine,” De Luna said.
When the Bobcats’ all-women squad finished their nationals routine earlier this month in Orlando, Fla., they were crowned national champions. SWT won the same title back in 2000, they finished 4th in 2001 and 3rd in 2002, but even though they had ’been there, done that’ at nationals, they still had nerves in 2003.
“My heart is pumping out of my chest before I go out there. No matter how bad, I don’t want to be nervous. It’s impossible to not be nervous. Anything can happen. If anybody does anything just a little bit different than what they’re supposed to -- a stunt could fall, or you can touch the ground on tumbling. So you’re nervous about just little accidents happening,” SWT cheerleader Heather Cannon said.
SWT does not offer any cheerleading scholarships, but the school does attract talented cheerleaders. “To win a college championship -- that’s a cheerleaders dream. They just want to take it to the next level, I think. And when they have the skills they know they can accomplish that at Southwest Texas,” SWT cheerleader Evie McCain said.
“I recruit daily. I get girls that e-mail and I find out what high school teams and all-star teams are decent teams. I go out and I talk to those seniors and I find out where they’re going to school and I convince them to come to Southwest Texas,” SWT Cheer Coach Jason Anderson said.
When they get there, they’ll go after another national championship. SWT also finished sixth at nationals in the Coed Division.