By Zara Boateng
To most people when they think of cheerleaders, the first thing that comes to mind is excited girls in short skirts shaking pom poms. Are we excited? Yeah! Do we shake pom poms? Of course! And our skirts? Well, you can’t really exercise in long skirts. But cheerleading is definitely more than that. When I joined the University of Manchester Cheerleaders (UMC) last year I completely underestimated how much work goes into being a cheerleader.
Cheerleading can be split into two types: competitive and motivational. Competitive cheerleading is based on a routine, where the team is judged on creativity and technique. Motivational cheerleading on the other hand, is more supportive. This is when cheerleaders go along to sports games to cheer teams on. As a sports society, we mainly focus on competing against other cheer teams around the UK, but when we can we love to cheer for our University of Mamchester sports teams!
Every year, we try to do at least three competitions and last year was quite successful for us. In the majority of the competitions we have participated in, our Elite team came in first, second or or third place, and our newly formed pom dance team came second in their first ever competition! However, winning ‘Sports Society of the Year 2014-15’ definitely had to be the cherry on top!
We have two teams that compete: the UMC Elite Squad and the UMC Honeybees.
Our first competition is always in November or December, so by mid-October we have already formed our Elite and Pom teams. The Elite team, depending on the competition, is made up of 15 – 35 people. The routines are a combination of tumbling, gymnastics, stunting, dancing and jumping. To make sure we hit a clean routine, we train three times a week. Training can definitely be pretty intense. We want to make sure that we can throw our flyers super high! So, alongside improving our stunting and gymnastic technique, one of our goals this year is definitely to improve our core fitness and strength. Our last session had us doing 120 sit-ups, 120 burpees and 70 toe-touch jumps! We don’t mess around!
The UMC Honeybees are our competitive pom dance team. Pom dance mainly focuses on the dancing side of cheer; there is no stunting at all. For our December competition, our pom dance team is made up of 15 people and every week, the Honeybees get together to learn their high-energy dance routine.
I joined cheer because I thought the uniform looked cool; I didn’t expect to like it this much, nor did I think that I was good enough to ever compete! I made it on to the team and in April we are going to be competing in Paris! Every year a wide variety of students come to the taster sessions. Some have experience in dancing, cheerleading, or gymnastics, but others, who are like me, have no experience at all.
I thought that this would hinder me a lot, but it didn’t and this is probably the main reason why I love UMC! As a team, they don’t just look for the most talented individuals, instead they look for people who are willing to try hard and improve their skills. Every Sunday, there are open sessions held in the Sugden Sports Centre. These two hour sessions are open to anyone, which is great if you want to learn new skills and see what cheerleading is about.
Check out our Facebook page, and message us if you have any enquiries.
Facebook: University of Manchester Cheerleaders
Copyright © The Mancunion
Powered By Spotlight Studios
0161 275 2930 University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR