Photo: Jordan Eggleston
When the word “cheerleading” comes to mind, not many people would think to say the word “difficult.” For Drake cheerleading, it’s exactly the right word.
Drake’s cheerleaders are constantly busy. Between their weekly workouts, basketball games, football games and marketing events, it almost seems impossible for them to have any time for themselves, but they love every moment of it.
“I love cheering on our Bulldogs and getting the crowd pumped up for the athletes to strive for the victory,” said first-year Sarah Elizabeth Worrell.
While cheerleaders love what they do, they still face criticism.
“A lot of people think we don’t do anything and we just sit and there and look pretty and that’s not it at all, we have workouts, practice and it’s a huge time commitment,” said sophomore Bailey Cernohous.
Cheerleading has often been believed to be easy and not challenging, but Drake cheerleading is constantly working to improve. Its weekly schedule consists of workouts twice a week at 7 a.m., two two-hour practices and during football season, they perform at home games. Now that basketball season has started, they cheer both the men’s and the women’s teams any day of the week. They also perform at marketing events for the marketing department. During practice, the cheerleaders work on jumps, cheers, dances and stunts.
As for how these students become Drake cheerleaders, the recruiting style is a little more laid back than in other universities.
“A lot of girls will email me their information if they’re interested in cheerleading at Drake, most of them will come from cheerleading programs in high school and then we have tryouts at the end of May,” said Drake cheerleading head coach Fallon Parker. “The girls will go through the process of doing a cheer, they learn our school fight song, do jumps and stunting. We basically look for someone who has an all-around score in all the areas we are looking for — usually girls or guys who are from out of state send in a video.”
Even though the team currently consists of all women, men are allowed to try out and have a place on the team.
“We are looking to add two men this spring season, one of the guys that is interested is sending in a video and he’s transferring (from another school),” Parker said. “It’s a big time commitment, so with guys, they will come to our practice and if they want to do it they can join (any) time because we are looking for males to join our team, which is kind of hard to get.”
While the squad plays an active role in the Drake community, Parker still feels that it is not as connected to the athletes as she’d like it to be.
“My goal, as a coach, is to integrate us more into the athletic department. There seems to be a separation between cheerleading and athletics, and we want that to be one,” Parker said.
Still, cheerleading faces criticism for not being a sport.
“I agree that we aren’t a sport, but I do believe that we should be considered athletes because we put a lot of hard work and effort into it,” said first-year Sarah Dean.