Sophomore cheerleader Kimmy Barker (St. Petersburg, Fla.) shares her thoughts as the team prepares to defend their national championship title at the 2008 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship at Walt Disney World in January.
Monday, September 3, 2007
I gazed up at the thousands of empty bleacher rows as I waited in anticipation for them to fill up. We were about to cheer on our football team for the first time in the 2007-08 season. The feelings of eagerness and excitement that I had encountered prior to my first football game our previous season rushed over me. I could not wait for it all to get started.
Soon enough, the stadium was packed full of devoted football fans, most of them dressed in red. Before the game began we became acquainted with the NC State cheerleaders who were very friendly and welcoming. Next, we were positioned right in front of the section of UCF fans. Everyone seemed thrilled to be there. Finally, the game started and we began to lead the crowd. However, we didn't have to do a lot to get them out of their seats because in the first 30 seconds, our team scored a touchdown! It was such a joyful feeling to be able to witness the first touchdown of the season, while standing on the field with them. Our crowd went wild and so did we.
Throughout the entire game our crowd remained pumped up, which eventually lead us to a victory. The football players rushed over to the UCF section to celebrate with the cheerleaders and the fans. Everyone was thrilled and so proud to be associated with winning team. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the joyful occurrence and I am so proud of our players for starting off the season in such a positive way!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Things are picking up again as my teammates and I prepare to take on the fall semester! Summer was a nice break, but I am ready for all of the fun and excitement that I hope to experience during my second year as a student-athlete at UCF.
A lot has taken place since our victory in January. During the month of May, we held a tryout for the new season. After three days of hard work our coaches were able to select the best-suited people to fill the spots of our graduating seniors. Later in July, we met together as a new team to practice for the first time. We refer to this time as "work weekend." Basically, for three to four days about a month before camp every year, we practice long hours in preparation. We are paired with our stunt partners, and we put together pyramids and baskets. The rookies learn a lot of new skills which most of them have never done before. It's a lot of hard work, however it's great to be together as a team for the very first time.
The next time we met as a team was at camp. After a long bus ride to Alabama, I was able to bond with my new teammates and be well-rested for long days of learning material and new skills. My favorite part was when we first walked into the camp and we were able to see and talk with many of our friends from other schools. Everyone seemed pretty excited about the weekend. Over the next few days, we learned several cheers and sidelines, which we were expected to perfect before evaluation time. We were given some creative ideas in our partner stunt and pyramid classes. By the final day we were ready to perform our skills in front of the other teams and the UCA staff members. We did well and took home awards for the fight song and cheer. It felt great to have accomplished so much in such little time with all the new team members.
An additional thing our team has experienced this summer is working with the producers of Cheerleader-U. It's a huge privilege to be given the opportunity to tell our story to everyone who tunes into the show. I must admit, it took a little getting used to having the cameras around so much of the time. However, I really believe that the show will change the mindset that many people have toward college cheerleading. We work hard and practice very difficult and dangerous skills. Many people might not realize what immense efforts go into perfecting those skills before they are performed at school events for all of our fans to see. I hope the viewers see how much passion we have about our sport and about our school. It takes a lot of willpower to stay committed to something that takes up so much of our time, while still working toward obtaining a college degree. We truly love our sport, and I hope that is perceived by the audience as they watch the show.
Fall is a very fast-paced and intense semester. As summer comes to an end, I am getting mentally prepared to do well in my classes, work hard and become closer with my team. Thinking of all the great things to come this year brings me nothing but excitement!