Photo by Mona Mirpour
Sporting maroon and cheering on the Tigers, the Trinity cheerleaders bring spirit and energy to various events around the university. Don’t be fooled, however, by the way the team makes things look easy. Behind their colorful pom poms and bows lies lots of hard work and preparation that allows the cheerleaders to constantly bring a roar to campus.
The cheerleading squad practices twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. According to captains Zoe Heeter, senior, and Truly Tinsley, junior, they have to stick to a strict schedule.
“Monday: wake up. Go to class. I typically eat dinner around five-thirty because practice starts at seven, and you don’t want to eat right before practice ‘cause you’re probably [going to] just throw it all up or get sick,” Heeter said. “Then practice is about three hours long. It’s intense, a lot of work. A lot of people think that being a cheerleader is about waving your poms and yelling things. We actually do a lot of physical work, literally lifting each other up.”
The three-hour practice is closed so that head coach Leviticus Weaver, who has been coaching Trinity cheer for 13 years, can keep the team focused on improving and preparing for appearances that demand the team to perform in the sun for hours.
“We usually warm up, so we’ll do five-to-10 laps around the gym,” Tinsley said. “Then we stretch for about 10 minutes. From there we practice our jumps. So we do about 10 of each jump, and there is five [jumps], so that’s about 50 jumps. From there we usually practice stunting and tumbling, and after that, if we need to, we’ll go over cheer review or dance review. And from there we have an hour work out. So like 20 minutes of running, and then weight-lifting [and] body exercises.”
The cheerleaders are pushed to improve physically over the course of the season, but because they are also Trinity students, the athletes are tasked with juggling schoolwork, as well as their cheer schedule.
“Basically I have to spend my whole week planning ahead because typically we have practices on Monday and Thursday from seven to 10, and then we have games all day Saturday. So those three days are taken up, and I can’t do homework on those days, so the time that I would do homework on those days has to be put on other days. So [the week is] spent doing homework ahead and doing stuff outside of cheer too,” Tinsley said.
The schedule is different on various game days, but game appearances force the athletes to start preparing hours in advance. At football games in particular, the cheerleaders have to stand in the hot sun and be actively engaging with the fans.
“Let’s say the game is at 1 p.m. I’ll probably wake up anywhere from nine to 10, take [a] shower, do my hair — actually, no — put on my uniform, then do my hair, then do my make-up, eat a good breakfast because we’re going to be out in the sun, it’s going to be hot,” Heeter said. “We get here, we cheer, we have dinner-slash-lunch here, then pretty much by the end of it you’re exhausted and you just want to go home and take a shower and take a nap.”
Although cheerleading is often associated with football, the football games are not the only places where the cheerleaders make appearances.
Junior Kendall Koym said, “We also cheer at basketball games, some volleyball games, and are involved in volunteer events such as freshman orientation events, TigerThon, alumni weekend pep rally, etc.”
Currently the cheerleaders support other Trinity athletic teams but do not compete in cheer competitions, although there is a possibility they may in the future.
“Competitions, right now, we don’t do, but as far as events go, it’s more of appearances, you know, Alumni Weekend or March Madness type stuff, pep rallies that they ask us to show up for. So we may do small performances,” Weaver said.
Cheer is considered a spirit group, and the squad earns this title around campus by showing up and displaying spirit.
“If people ask us on the school campus, we try to go. So we don’t really ever say no, unless we can’t be there,” Tinsley said.
The cheer team’s commitment to showing up to as many events as they possibly can, including last year’s TigerThon, where they both performed and helped out, makes the squad one of the fundamental pillars of school spirit at Trinity.
“I feel like not right now, but I think every year [school spirit] increases. Since I’ve been here, since freshman year, [school spirit] increases every year. And I think with the cheer team getting bigger, and us getting louder, we definitely can help that, but [school spirit] can definitely improve more,” Tinsley said.
Tinsley is not the only one who is beginning to see Trinity’s culture and attitude towards athletics shift.
“People want to be cheerleaders now, and what I mean by that is that my freshman year we had a team of six people and now we have a team of 20, 21 girls. So, you know, people want to be involved, people want to show their school spirit, people want to cheer on our football players, our volleyball, our basketball, whatever it may be, so I think that helps too,” Heeter said.