Cheerleaders’ Successes Demand School’s Attention

Two dozen stand out on the football field in front of Shepherd football fans and listen to the sound of cheering and clapping that is not for them.

They show up for all of the home games, they even cheer for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in the spring semester. However, they’re one university organization that doesn’t get much credit.

Shelby Toms, a sophomore elementary education student, and Desiree Wade, a senior computer information and information systems student, are two cheerleaders for Shepherd University.

“The hardest part about cheering is breaking the stereotype,” Toms said. “Everyone has this idea of a stuck-up cheerleader, and it’s not like that.”

The stereotype is perpetuated in a lot of popular teen films. The idea of stuck-up cheerleaders isn’t new; however, nothing is farther from the truth.

In reality, the cheerleaders at the university work very hard for this sport they are so passionate about.

“It’s my life,” Wade said. “It’s my passion, and it’s not just skirts and football.”

Football, the girls say, is just a routine practice. The cheerleaders are not allowed to do a lot of dangerous stunts because of the environment they’re in, so most times, people overlook them.

Most of their practice time, however, is spent practicing for the cheer competitions in which they compete.

“In the 2012 – 2013 season, we went to a national competition and won first place. It was the first time Shepherd had ever gone to anything like that. We also won first place last year,” Wade said.

Toms and Wade talked excitedly about their upcoming competition called Battle at the Capitol at the D.C. National Harbor at the end of February.

The two girls explained that although it’s very difficult and sometimes aggravating to go without recognition for their sport, they’ve had a lot of great successes.

Their biggest success this semester, Wade recounted, is when one of their teammates left the team to focus on school. Their stunt team was left without a flyer, which is the person who does the stunts in the air.

The cheer squad was prepared to canvas the campus for a new flyer, when a girl named Morgan Kidwell volunteered to try.

“She had never been a flyer before,” Toms and Wade said, “but within a day, she had mastered all of our stunts.” It was impressive, they continued, “Stuff like that just doesn’t happen.”

Lindsey Bordovsky, the cheerleading coach, is a Shepherd alumnus herself. She cheered all four years as an undergraduate student, and said she couldn’t imagine not coaching for the girls or even working with a different team.

“A lot of things are really hard about coaching,” Bordovsky said, “But it’s worth it.”

It’s a full time hobby for these girls and their coach. They are either in class, at work or in the gym practicing. So, it seems strange that these girls work so hard for so little recognition.

“There’s this stigma of being a cheerleader; that we’re just about football,” she said, “but nobody sees the late night practices and the competitions that are hours away,” Bordovsky said.

“We just want to break the stereotype,” Toms said. “We want to prove that we’re a sport, too, and that we work just as hard as football players or any other sport.”

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