Cheer music is very different from just music. In cheer music there is a combination of songs that can go into it. It is technical called a mix. As there is as many pieces of songs that can go into cheer music.
The thing that is very different about cheer music than normal mixes or music is that it can have voice overs. Voice overs is a person saying different things that get recorded over top the music. For example, in an all start cheers music a voice over in their music was, “we are the pink diamonds and we are here to shine”, or “small senior x is coming for you”. It can stay things like your team name or say things like “you better watch out for us cause we are going to bring it”. The voice over are to pump you up and scare the other cheer teams in a sassy way.
Another thing that is found in cheer music is sound effects. Sound effects can be like swishes, flicks, bangs, or anything you can think of. Sound effects are used to follow the cheer routine, so when flyer hit the top of there stunt a sound effect will sounds of a camera flash or a cha-ching. It gives the music a dramatic effect and catches your interest cause you know when there is a sound effect there is a hit. That just means the flyer hits a pose or there stunt.
See, cheer music is very different from your average radio song. I have provided the cheer music my team is using for our routine that we compete with, so you can get a sense of what cheer music is really all about.
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If you have ever been to a basketball or volleyball game at university it is very typical to hear cheerleaders on the sidelines yelling and cheering for the team.
When we are cheering we are usually chanting, which is when the cheer squad is all yelling the same thing at the same time. For example, on our squad one of our chants goes likes this, “Thompson Rivers, top of the stack, you know, we run with the wolfpack, wolfpack, wolfpack, wolfpack”. Not only do we chant this out but we also do motions with the chants to make it look a little more interesting.
When we aren’t doing are chanting we are just cheering for the team on the sidelines. When a timeout is called though, we go out on to the floor and stunt. We put up things like elevators, extensions, libs, and baskets. Baskets always seem to impress the crowd because that is when the flyer gets thrown into the air the highest and pulls cool tricks. Its always fun when my stunt group throws me up in a basket, because this one time I was cheering at a game and go put into basket I made eye contact with this little girl and as I got higher and higher her face lit up with amazement. It truly made me night that I could impress a little girl like that.
With chanting we excite our home team and help push them when they need it. Have you ever played a game and felt what it was like to play when an inter crowd was cheering for? If you have then you know what it feels like. It helps tremendously because you deep down you want to win for you and for all those people calling your name and school name.
I know every sport you need to practice at least three times a week, but in cheer it really does take a lot more than that. In basketball you learn a few plays and how to dribble a ball. In cheer you learn how to base, fly, third, tumble, jump, chant, and a routine. You don’t think that is physically possible in an hut practice three times a week do you?
There is so many components to cheer that you seriously need a lot more time than almost any other sport when practicing. Here at Thompson Rivers University we have three full team practices on tuesdays for two hours in the morning, thursdays for two hours, and on sundays for three hours. On top of set full team practices I attend an addition tumbling class for an hour once a week. Right there is eight hours a week. Now sometimes we go to a drop in night and work stunts with our stunt groups, which is another two hours of practice. The team here at the school is decent but we aren’t no cheerlebrity team where they practice twenty hours a week minimum.
An all star team has to practice about three times as much as my time if not more. Also, they pay more than double what I pay to be on the cheer squad. As you move to a bigger and better team the costs and the amount of time you practice increases.
Okay, so about eight hours of practice a week is what my team is usually doing but, then we also do volunteering as a team, fundraising events, and cheer on the other sports teams at the school. Now add that all together thats a lot. Sometimes I see my team members six days a week. And the safest part about that is that our school does not fund our team and doesn’t really care about the cheer squad. This makes all the time we put into cheer feel almost worthless because our own school doesn’t even notice us. Question. How are we suppose to put in countless hours to a sport that fully represents are school and feel good at the end of the year? We go unseen by the sports directors every year, no matter how much time we put into the sport.
Cheer is just like every other sport in that fact that you have to pay a fee to play. But, most people don’t realize that their is more than just that initial fee. Cheer is very expensive because you have to pay for coaches, tumbling coaches, and pay a rent fee at the gym your attending for cheer.
On top of all the fees you pay just for being on the team you also have to pay for a gym membership because you must be working out at least six days a week. Teams expect you to be fit.
The next cost that most teams do not play like cheer does is competition fees. Every time a basketball team plays a game they just play, they don’t have to sign wavers and pay a fee for every athlete that is on the floor. The costs at competition varies from competition to competition. This year my team had to pay an athlete fee of twenty dollars per person who came on the mat at our first competition, but the second competition we are going to we have to pay eighty dollars per person. Costs vary due to the size of competition or if the winning placing means a free ride to worlds.
You think thats all for costs? Nope. There is the cost of the uniform, which you either buy in full or pay a rental fee on them. Then there is the cost of additional tumbling practices that are sometimes required. Now thats a lot of bills a cheerleader has to pay. And don’t forget the amount of performance makeup you need and the crazy amount of hairspray you go through to keep your hair up.
Now add that all together and you have one very expensive sport. Yes, lots of other teams have many costs, but in cheer the costs seem endless.
I thought I would tell you guys a little bit about the team here at Thompson Rivers University. There has been many obstacles for us and to see how far we have come is huge.
This cheerleading squad has come so far in the past five years. The team was almost shut down due to the unsafeness in the techniques of the stunts. Today the team has passed that and we have gotten the proper skills and techniques to keep the squad going. Coaches from other teams have taken a notice in us and are proud of our team because we are the only level four team that is apart of a university and does volunteer work through the year on top of cheer.
This year we have had to climb over a couple of obstacles. The first challenge we faced was a guy on our team had to leave the team due to health reasons. Losing a guy on your team is a major obstacle because they bring so much strength to the team and can make a dramatic of a difference in lets say baskets.
Our second challenge has been a few girls quit. This is hard to overcome because once you have your routine in place those girls are set to there spot. If one person leaves a stunt group the stunts will not work. We have had to seek out there people to try and fill the spots. We eventually did fill the spots but during the time that we had holes in the routine (girls missing) it was very stressful for that stunt group who lost the person and for the team.
The third biggest obstacle our team has faced is cattiness. Yes, we are a team of twenty-one girls and two boys, and yes that many girls makes for a good combination of fighting. Dumb fights happen about things like “I’m the best” or “wow she sucks”. I hate that this a part of being on a team with so many girls but we get over it eventually. The coaches most defiantly help keep the team on track and keep us focused to stop the girls from bickering.
Lastly, the next hardest part about being on a co-ed team is when relationships happen between the teammates. This causes so much irritation and drama for a team. It bound to happen, I mean you spend everyday with that guy or girl you are crushing on. We practice together three times a week and have other events going on. Sometimes you will see the team five times a week. It is hard to be professional when your crushing all over a guy or girl. This is not always the best for a team.
All in all I would say we have accomplished many of our obstacles and have gotten this team to grow in a positive direction. With the improvement in coaching and the dedicated athletes that keep joining the team, this squad has the potential to go far.
Choreograph weekend feels like the longest weekend ever. It consists of countless hours marking out a routine. Count by count we put a routine together that last two and half minutes. You wouldn’t think making a routine that lasts only two and half minutes long would take that long to create but it took my teams eight hours just to get the transitions right.
Our team was lucky enough to get the coaches from Kelowna’s Okanogan Fire Storm’s team to come to Kamloops and create a routine for us. It costs a lot of money to get other coaches to conduct a routine for you but when just so happen to be close friends with other coaches it comes in handy.
Choreograph weekend consists of having a lot of patients. I mean think about it, a coach is telling you “Okay on one you do this motion, on two you do this motion, on three you move here, on four you load, on five your up, on six you hit, on seven you pull, on eight you cradle”. Now there is a lot of eight counts in two and a half minutes and you cannot forget the counts. I mean if you forgot you were suppose to switch legs on three and didn’t do anything your bases would be trying to move you and all you would do is fall because you forgot to switch. It is so important that everyone remembers there counts because people can easily get hurt if your are trying to do something different then what the rest of your stunt group is doing.
It is a big relief at the end of the weekend when you finally have the rough draft of the routine done. It feels quite amazing. All the practices after the choreograph weekend consist of braking down the routine into parts and building up each thing.
Here in Kamloops the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack Cheerleading team dedicates their training and hard work to Sea to Sky because it is our biggest competition we attend.
Sea to Sky is an international competition that takes place in Vancouver and is held at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Teams from all over the place come and compete at different levels. This competition you can compete as a team, as a stunt group, or as an individual. All six levels of cheerleading come to this competition. It is a two day competition, which means you get two chances. The judges take half the marks from the first day and half the marks from the second day which then equals your total score.
Sea to Sky is the end of our season as playoffs is for soccer or basketball. It is a sad time since you know now that you have to wait five months before starting up again. Sea to Sky is an amazing experience. You meet tons of cheerleaders, girls and guys who are incredible. Around the whole arena there are booths lines up selling bows, clothing, shoes, and many more cheer items.
The performance stage is this the biggest stage we hit all season. It is light up and you are under spot lights, with a massive crowd watching you. Very intimidating I know, but that is just more thing about cheer, performing. To be a good performer you must have faith in what you do and to not let the crowd and lights get to your head.
There is two weeks until my team hits the road to Sea to Sky and things are getting stressful in practice. Everything about our routine must be perfect. Stunt must look sharp, facials must look fierce, and tumbling must hit perfectly with one another. It is clean up week for the team. Every hand motion, every smile, everything we do must be sharp and clean for the judges to score us high.
All our team can do now is hope and prey that everything will hit perfectly. I hope I have well explained what we cheerleaders do and what it looks like by my numerous photos and videos. I hope to have a video of our performance at Sea to Sky up in two weeks!!!
Surprised? Well guess what. Cheerleading has been announced as the most dangerous sport out there. I didn’t think so either but it is. Not wrestling or football or hockey but cheerleading. We may not try to punch other people out or body check people into the ground or into a wall but a flyer will come diving through the air at you. Instead of having to catch a ball or move out of the way of a flying puck, you have to dive right under your flyer and brass her fall for her. Its either you risk severely hurting your flyer or even getting her killed.
As a the bases and third you must risk everything for your flyer as she is the one being thrown into the air at different feet. The flyer twists and flips and she needs to know her stunt group will be there to catch her so she doesn’t land on her ass.
A major factor in why cheerleaders get hurts so badly when they hit the ground is because most of the time the squad is performing on hard ground like, gym floors, concrete, grass, and the blue mat they usually perform on is also pretty darn hard itself. Cheerleaders do not get a very nice surface to fall on even when they are practising new and harder skills. Another factor to injuries is if your coaches are not up to pace with their training and experience.
Cheerleading is the most dangerous sport for women athletes and I know this because when you click into googles’ web browser cheerleading injuries the first think to pop up is that 66% of catastrophic injuries are from cheerleading.
Jumping is just one part of the routine. Its exactly what it sounds like but with a little twist. It not just normal jumping up and down if thats what your thinking. It is when you set, jump and pull. There is skills to pull in everything you do in cheerleading.
To be a good jumper you need to be able to do all three splits, left, right and middle. Also, it helps to be able to jump high. The types of skills you can pull in your jump are: a pike, toe touch, herki, and a herdler. As usual I will show you what these are at the bottom in photographs.
When you land your jump you can also pull a skill out of them for example, a standing backhand spring, a back tuck, or a fullback tuck. These are only seen and down by cheerleaders from the higher levels starting at level four.
In the routine you need a series of jumps to get full points for this section. For an example of a series, in my routine we do two jumps back to back, which are called whips when you do more than one, they are straddler, toe touch. Then we transition and pull are second whip of toe touch, toe touch, toe touch. In the first sequece of jumps the girls in the front row land there second jump and then pull standing backhand springs.
In cheer jumps are probably my least favourite just because jumping is hard on your knees and body, but also because my jumps are low. Once I improve my jump high I can see myself enjoying it a lot more because they will look nicer and I will feel better about them making me like jumps!
Baskets are the funnest part of cheer as a flyer. You feel like your on a ride at a fair. The amount of hight you can get and the feeling of free falling back into group has got be the best feeling ever, for some people. Some flyers absolutely hate flying in baskets because it freaks them out being that high in the air.
When flying in a basket you must be extremely tight, meaning you have to keep all your muscles tight. Also, make sure you keep your legs and arms tucked into your sides. If you start to flail in the air you could easily come down and hurt someone who is trying to catch you. Injuries occur quite of often when practicing baskets because it is very common for the flyer to get spooked. If the flyer comes down and their group fails to catch her you can cause extremely bad injuries or even death.
I myself love to fly in the baskets, but yes I have been freaked out a couple of times. You have to always make sure when you load into a basket launch that your feet are properly on your bases hands to when they toss you up you go straight up not backwards or forwards or else you group under you is going to have to run and catch you.
There are also skills that can be pulled in a baskets just like in a normal stunt. There is pike peters, pike stars, fills, double downs, ball stars, back tucks, and layout fulls. All these skills are seen at the different levels. Some of the skills I just mentioned are only possible if the group throwing you can toss you high enough to be able to pull these skills. The stronger the base group the high you can the more skills you can pull. I get to be only lucky flyer because my girls under me are the strongest on my team and get some extreme hight. I am talking about at lease fifteen feet in the air. Now you can see how that can be dangerous!
Here are a couple photos and a video to show you some of the baskets that I have done.