The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU Cheer squad gearing up for nationals

SMU’s cheerleading squad isn’t just at football games.

Besides practicing nine hours a week, the squad has started preparing for the National Cheerleading Association’s college national competition next April in Daytona, Fla.

“We are deep into making our skills tape,” said SMU spirit coordinator Zac Brannon.

The skills tape is a one-and-a-half minute audition tape for the NCA competition where each qualifying team showcases its talents in order to get paid bids for the weekend.

If a team gets a paid bid to the competition, its hotel rooms will be paid for the weekend.

Last year, the SMU cheerleaders came into the competition with a partially paid bid and ranked third overall on their skills tape.

Looking back at the tape from last year, Brannon can already see that the squad has improved tremendously.

“We’ve upped our basket-tosses and tumbling to a much higher level,” said Brannon. He is confident about the quality of progress on the cheer squad. “We send in the final skills tape on Dec. 5 and we’ll find out the results the next week.”

The team finished in fifth place last year and ninth the year before that. With its rank increasing from year to year, the SMU cheer team is optimistic about an even better standing next time, maybe even the title of “National Champions.”

“We have more talent this year than we have ever had. We took fourteen new freshmen, bumping our squad up to 36 members,” said senior co-captain Elizabeth Bridges.

The fifth-place win was no disappointment to the squad, although it left some room for improvement at this year’s competition. The SMU cheerleaders are working hard on their basket tosses and tumbling, which were the only two categories where points were deducted last year. The team lost seven seniors but gained 10 freshmen and three transfer students this semester.

“Recruitment presents somewhat of a challenge for us,” Brannon said. SMU has a strong academic reputation and a steep tuition charge.

According to SMU’s Web site, the admission rate was 66 percent for the current senior class. That number has only gotten smaller as the number of applicants to SMU increases each year.

SMU has a well-rounded cheerleading squad that can not only tumble, but also hit the books. Finding new recruits that can meet these rigorous standards is difficult.

SMU’s biggest rival at the national competition is the University of Louisville in Kentucky, whose average ACT score is 23.9, which is three points below the SMU ACT average.

“They have the reputation of being a cheer school. Their co-ed and all-girl cheer squads swept all three categories last year,” Brannon said.

SMU usually brings just one small co-ed cheer squad to the competition each year, but Brannon is thinking about changing things up a bit. He has proposed the idea to bring not only his small co-ed team, but add an additional co-ed intermediate team as well.

“We have so much talent on the team. I want them all to have the opportunity to compete on a college level,” said Brannon. “The only concern I have with taking two squads is the attention factor. I want to give each team member as much of my attention as possible, and it becomes more difficult to do when you add more members.”

The small co-ed team consists of four males and 16 females and the co-ed intermediate can have up to as many as 12 males.

“The names of the categories can be pretty confusing. Teams are divided up by how many males allowed in each division. A small co-ed team has fewer males than a large co-ed team, but they each have the same amount of team members,” explained Brannon.

Averaging 17 hours of conditioning, practicing, and performing on game weeks, the SMU cheerleaders show immense dedication for their sport.

They utilize their time spent at football and basketball games as an opportunity to practice and perfect their cheering technique, all in hopes of have a successful run at NCA’s competition in April 2007.

“I would love for this to be the year we bring home the national title but honestly, I really want everyone on the team to look back and go, ‘yeah, that was a great experience,'” said Bridges.

“Hopefully the rest will fall into place.”

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