BY KENDRA BARACKMAN, STAFF WRITER
As McKendree grows, so does their sports and programs. In the past few years, the cheerleading program has made a huge transformation. It all began when coach, Bianca Timmermann took over. The team has almost doubled in size. There are now nearly 40 cheerleaders, and 19 of them will compete at Nationals. The team is composed of men and women, all with amazing amounts of talent. The athletes come from all over the United States. The coaches make trips to different schools all year round to recruit possible cheerleaders. In addition, all cheerleaders receive a scholarship to help pay for their schooling. Big things can be expected from the program in the future.
The McKendree University cheerleaders rang in the New Year with the start of national’s season. Many of you may wonder what is Nationals? It is the competitive side of cheerleading that cheer squads participate in. It is located in Daytona, FL and takes place in April. If you ask any cheerleader, they will say that it is one of the most amazing experiences they have ever participated in. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful. Some teams start preparing as early as August for this event. Last year, McKendree placed 3rd, making school history. Coach Bianca Timmermann has truly made an impact on the cheerleading program here at McKendree.
First semester is pretty laid back for the cheerleaders. For the most part, they focus on cheering for football games as well as making a few appearances here and there for high school cheer competitions. Second semester reaches a whole new level for the cheerleaders. They cheer for men and women’s home basketball games which calls for longer, more intense practices. As they returned from winter break, they immediately jumped into practice. To prepare for Nationals season, two choreographers from the University of Louisville were called in. Kristen and Calen were phenomenal and made a hopefully award-winning routine. The cheerleaders have spent nearly 30 hours at the gym in one weekend to learn this routine.
A typical routine lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This may not sound like a lot, but there are no breaks or no time to breathe. The routine is a mixture of stunting, throwing girls up in the air as they pull body positions or do flips, tumbling, or gymnastics (as some might call it) and choreography and all of the little things that make the routine flow. Teams put countless hours of practice into one routine to make it perfect. Competition season is stressful and difficult but it’s all worth it when you win that trophy.
While the student-body of McKendree hits the beach for spring break, the cheerleaders will be participating in “Hell Week.” This is exactly what it sounds like; a week full of practice and perfecting their routine. To make it a little more tolerable, they will have different themes for practice like blackout, gender bender, beach, and etc. The amount of time, effort, and dedication these young men and women put into this routine is truly amazing.
The cheerleaders would appreciate your support throughout the year, especially during Nationals season. They can be found at home men and women’s basketball games. Also, they will be hosting a friends and family night to showcase their routine before they leave
for Florida in April. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come send them off with good luck and encouraging words. Go Bearcats!