From cheer to dance

By | September 08, 2008 | Arts & Entertainment (3)

Photo Courtesy of Keith Kountz / Kountz Photography

Meridith Bartman transitioned from cheering for Fresno State to dancing for the San Francisco 49ers — but it was not easy.

After cheering for Fresno State for the past four years and receiving her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, Meridith Bartman is now a San Francisco 49er Gold Rush Dancer — while working on her master’s degree.

“Juggling school, work and cheer has definitely been a challenge, but I’m someone that thrives off of being busy,” Bartman said.

Bartman works two jobs outside of school and cheer. She works at the Pacific Orthopedic Center as a Physical Therapist aide and as a student assistant for the Fresno State football operations coordinator Drew Hill.

She is currently working on getting her master’s degree in Sports Administration here at Fresno State.

Finding time to balance her schedule is something she is still working on.

“My dad always told me that you should always write things down when you know you need to do something and I cannot express how much that has helped me,” Bartman said.

Fresno State special teams and wide receivers coach, John Baxter, came up with an Academic plan, which Bartman uses to stay on task.

When she commutes back and forth from Fresno to San Francisco, she tries to manage her time by doing homework in the car when it is not her turn to drive and when practice and games are over, she goes straight to school work.

“I am the type of person that never wants to skip a beat and I feel that I have so much to accomplish in my life,” Bartman said.

Trying out for the 49ers was something Bartman just wanted to do for fun because it was very different from what she had ever done before. NFL teams mainly dance so there is less cheering and stunting than what she did at Fresno State.

“I decided to challenge myself with something completely different to see if I could do it and never thought I would actually make it,” Bartman said.

Tryouts for the 49ers are much different than for Fresno State.

At Fresno State, tryouts are preceded a day before by clinics, where the girls learn a short cheer and dance.

The next day, the cheerleaders perform what they learned along with tumbling and stunts in front of about five people. They find out that day if they make it or not.

In the 49ers’ tryouts, the girls are given 30 minutes to learn a dance routine to perform in front of about 20 judges. A cut is made right there.

The next round involves another routine and another cut, immediately after which the finalists are announced.

“If you make it to the finals, you are scheduled to have an interview where they ask you questions to get to know you more on a personal level,” Bartman said.

The interviews are the next day in front of a panel of about eight people. After the interview, the girls wait a few days and come back and perform the routine they were taught as well as a routine they choreographed themselves. From there, they wait a few more days.

The judges’ determinations can be found on a private Internet site, where the names of squad members are posted.

“Many of the girls on the team are like family to me now and I never realized what a sisterhood the team is,” Bartman said.

Bartman hopes to be involved with cheer for as long as she can.

As far as a career, she would like to be a part of a professional football team organization as the operating coordinator or a member of facility management.

If you are not familiar with some of the terms concerning cheer and dance, this may help you.

  • tumbling: the gymanstics
    moves of acrobat; a gymnastic skill involving backward rolls and inverted skills and flips.
  • dance: movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, including leaps, turns and kicks.
  • cheerleading: a sport that uses organized routines made from elements of some tumbling, dance, jumps and stunting.

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