Out of the millions of cheerleaders world-wide only a small percentage will go on to cheer at a collegiate level. Preparing to take that step typically requires a great amount of preparation and commitment. Below you will find some pointers that should help you decide if collegiate cheerleading is for you and if so, how to go about making the team.
The first step in making this decision is to decide what you are looking for in a team and if the colleges you are considering have squads that match those characteristics. Once you have made that decision begin to research the squad to see if your skill set matches the team requirements. Making the team may require private lessons or assistance from outside parties to ensure you can meet the tryout requirements. Teams at major schools will typically have a web site or at least contact information for the coach on the school web site. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the coach and ask for information on the team. On occasion a coach may even allow you to attend a team practice to get a feel for the squad and if it would be a good fit for you. Keep in mind when contacting the coach to be patient for a response.
There are many types of college squads and the differences can sometimes be monumental. First you have co-ed squads and all-girl squads. Most co-ed squads stunt one-on-one, which is usually not the norm for high school level cheerleading. If you desire to cheer on a co-ed squad try to seek out an experienced stunting partner to help you prepare for tryouts if you have never stunted one on one. Showing up to tryouts with a little experience under your belt will not only show initiative, but will also boost your chances of making a good impression during the actual tryout. You may want to inquire about stunting during tryouts and what you will be required to perform… this will allow you to practice exactly what you will have to perform.
The same guidelines apply to tumbling as stunting. Check the team tryout requirements and if you are not at the required level, seek assistance. Coaches will gladly provide you with this type of information and may even be able to suggest places for you to work on these skills. It is also important to inquire about the surface that tryouts will take place on, as well as what type of surface the team practices on. If you are accustomed to tumbling on a spring surface and the team only cheers on non-spring surfaces, you may want find time to tumble on the appropriate surface to feel comfortable during tryouts and potentially a full year of practice.
Collegiate cheerleading also requires a far greater time commitment than most cheerleaders have experienced at the high school level. So as a result, a major point to be considered when deciding if college cheer is for you is whether or not you are willing to make this huge time commitment and possibly forego many college experiences that others may not have to sacrifice. Many college teams will practice or work out early in the morning before any classes start (about 5am) and will meet again in the evening. In addition to practices, cheerleaders must balance classes, homework, studying, games, and travel to and fro away games. Successfully managing all of this will require a large amount of planning and organization. Most cheerleaders also have a grade point average that must be maintained as mandated by the school.
As cheerleading continues to grow and become more competitive more schools are beginning to recognize cheerleading as a collegiate sport and not an activity. This may not sound like much besides a change in title, but it makes a huge difference. Schools that recognize cheerleading as a sport have the ability to offer scholarships to some or all of the team members. The squad coach should be able to provide you with further information on their scholarship situation.
Finally, remember to mark the tryout date on your calendar well in advance, especially if the school you hope to cheer for is not local. Many times tryouts will be conducted over a period of several days and may require travel arrangements to be made accordingly. There are many things to be considered when deciding whether college cheerleading is the path for you, but the rewards are certainly many when you choose this path.
Remember information and preparation are both going to be of the utmost importance and you can never begin preparing or gathering information too early. Good Luck!