“As a flyer, I have to trust that the four people below me aren’t going to drop me, to make sure I’m in the air to make sure I can do what I need to do,” senior cheerleader Ava Johnson. Explain. “Same with my bases: they need to trust that I won’t fall on them. For each part of our routine, each person must trust everyone else on the team to do their job. It makes us a very close family.”
The WolfPack has been practicing twice a day in preparation for the World University Championships, which is an extremely high level of commitment for these student-athletes.
“It addresses pretty much every aspect of your life,” explains Alyse Coates, a junior cheerleader. “What you’re doing, the choices you’re making, how can you be your best self to be there for your team because as soon as someone is out of focus, it makes the whole team out of focus. We depend a lot on each other, everyone’s commitment has to be up to par for this team to be successful.”
WolfPack will also compete in the Gameday Divison at Worlds, which is more of a traditional cheerleading discipline.
“Game day cheer pays homage to the traditional style of cheer. That’s what a lot of people think, you know, in the ’80s and ’90s, with the pom-poms and the flags,” Blakely explains. “The signs and the great songs, very showy.”
For the athletes, this competition is the culmination of all the work they have put in, in practice, in the classroom, and in their everyday lives.
“With how much we’ve been training and how hard we’ve been working, I just want to see us move towards what we know we can do best,” Coates says. “We just want to get out of that apartment happy, no matter what, and know that we are doing our best.”
“It’s amazing to be able to perform for your country, for your city and show them what you can do,” Johnson says. “I just love him so much.”
The College World Cup Cheerleading Championship takes place January 13-15 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. TRU will compete on Sunday.