Born and bred an athlete, let’s just say my respect for cheerleaders has not always been high. But I decided to put my ego aside and dig deep to find the answer to the ongoing question: Is cheerleading a sport?
As an athlete, I never thought of cheerleading as a sport. I mean really, does it take that much skill to learn a dance and some words? So, I went inside to find out what the fuss is all about.
Senior cheer captain Bernadette Fiehler is a committed team member. She has built many friendships on the squad and said she is grateful for the opportunities she has been a part of, such as the NCAA Tournaments, bowl games and community service projects.
“One of my other favorite things about cheering would be the feeling of excitement you get at the beginning of every game you cheer at,” Fiehler said. “You feel the roar of the crowd and spirit of each and every fan.”
And of course when talking to a cheerleader they will argue that cheerleading is absolutely a sport.
“I definitely consider cheerleading a sport. I think that cheerleading is a combination of gymnastics, dance and weightlifting, except with people instead of weights. I have seen firsthand that my teammates work just as hard as any other athlete.”
Nichol Gagnon will return to the ‘Dogs’ squad this upcoming season as the assistant head coach after cheering herself for five years in a Bulldog uniform.
“When a cheer team comes together to create a competition routine, there are many different aspects that come into play to consider cheerleading a sport,” Gagnon said. “We train ourselves in tumbling [gymnastics floor routines], stunting, dance, flexibility and stamina.”
While an athlete’s practice consists of sprints, drills and related intense cardio pertaining to that specific sport, I was curious what a cheer practice consisted of. Much to my surprise they were very similar.
“As a team at practice, we will warm our bodies up (cardio), then stretch (flexibility), then spend the remainder of the time with choreography, stunting and tumbling,” Gagnon said.
So what do the “true” athletes think of the cheer squad? Who better to ask than Bulldog quarterback Ryan Colburn.
“It takes a special person to be a cheerleader,” Colburn said. “I think it takes a certain mindset. You have to have a lot of energy, you have to have a lot of excitement to you and I think that they have done a terrific job.”
So, whether or not that answers if cheerleading is a sport, they have at least twisted my arm a bit and I have a newfound respect for them.
If you think you have what it takes to lead our fans in Bulldog pride, head out to tryouts today and tomorrow at the North Gym and decide for yourself if cheerleading is a sport.