I'm A Cheerleader, And I've Never Been To A Football Game

I'm A Cheerleader, And I've Never Been To A Football Game

We're always curious as to what it's like to be a spectator.
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I started cheerleading in the 8th grade – if you’ve read any of my previous articles, you might have come across the fact that I grew up a gymnast, but retired after high school and became a collegiate cheerleader for the University of Pittsburgh. Starting at that young of an age, I never really got to experience the thrill of being in the stands of a student section of a football game.

I grew up a Steelers fan. Both of my parents were born and raised in Pittsburgh, and as a family, we bleed black and gold for the Steelers. Now that I’m in college, we breathe blue and gold for Pitt. Basically, we live for everything Pittsburgh.

I’ve recently started cheerleading my 8th season of football games. Every year since I was 13, I’ve cheered my school’s football team to victory and stood by them through loss. I’m now 20 years old, and I have yet to attend a football game as a spectator. During my senior year of high school, my friends would be in the front row of the “Hawk’s Nest” (what we called our student section) and they would always call out my name and cheer for me. Now that I’m in college, some of my friends are able to make it all the way down to the front rows of the “Panther Pit” to wave to me and call out my name. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to get down to the front row and call out one of my friends’ names, but I think it’s pretty remarkable that people do it for me.

I find it interesting when my friends ask me if I’ve ever been to a game, because their faces when I tell them “no” is so dumbfounded. And by now, I can hear some of you thinking but you have been to a game, you’re on the sidelines every game. What’s different for me is that yes, I do get to watch the game, but I have never gotten to sit down and enjoy a game of football. But don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade being a college cheerleader for the world.

In the beginning, maybe around 8 or 9 o’clock, while we cheerleaders are warming up our tumbling and stunts, most students are just waking up and painting their faces for kickoff at noon. At about 10 o’clock, we as cheerleaders head out to the tailgates to get our fans excited. We meet alumni, maybe run into our parents, and get as many people hyped up for the game by encouraging them to do cheers with us as we walk through their parked cars and tables of food. By this point, the students are at a different parking lot, drinking and partying before making their way to their seats for kickoff. Just before kickoff, the student section is about as full as it gets, disregarding the few stragglers that wanted a snack before the game began. At this point, I’m down on the field, next to Roc the Panther, my best friends and teammates, in front of a camera and tens of thousands of people, cheering and waiting for the team to arrive. We dance and do stunts to “Hail to Pitt” and the “Victory Song” and then sprint to make a tunnel for the football players to run out through. I get more exercise in one game that most students have to go to the gym three times to get. But still, I’ve never been to a game.

At the University of Pittsburgh, we have so many football traditions that we participate in at the games. After a touchdown, if the field goal is good, students throw each other up and down seven times while clapping out “Hail to Pitt.” I wonder what it’s like to be thrown at a game. They say curiosity kills the cat, but curiosity won’t be killing this Panther. Nothing compares to being able to say I cheered on Heinz Field.

Cover Image Credit: Jeffrey Gamza Photography

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20 Signs You Were A High School Cheerleader

You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."
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Cheerleading is something you'll never forget. It takes hard work, dedication, and comes with its ups and downs. Here are some statements that every cheerleader, past and present, know to be true.

1. You always had bobby pins with you.

2. Fear shot through you if you couldn't find your spankees right away and thought you left them at home.

3. You accumulated about 90 new pairs of tennis shoes...

4. ...and about 90 new bows, bags, socks, and warm ups.

5. When you hear certain songs from old cheer dance mixes it either ruins your day or brings back happy memories.

6. And chances are, you still remember every move to those dances.

7. Sometimes you catch yourself standing with your hands on your hips.

8. You know the phrase, "One more time, ladies" all too well.

9. The hospitality rooms were always one of the biggest perks of going to tournaments (at least for me).

10. You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."

SEE ALSO: How The Term 'Cheerlebrity' Destroyed Our Sport

11. If you left the gym at half-time to go get something, you better be back by the time the boys run back out.

12. You knew how awkward it could be on the bus rides home after the boys lost.

13. But you also knew how fun it could be if they won.

14. Figuring out line-up was extremely important – especially if one of your members was gone.

15. New uniforms were so exciting; minus the fact that they cost a fortune.

16. You know there was nothing worse than when you called out an offense cheer but halfway through, you had to switch to the defense version because someone turned over the ball.

17. You still know the school fight song by heart and every move that goes with it.

SEE ALSO: Signs You Suffer From Post-Cheerleading Depression

18. UCA Cheer Camp cheers and chants still haunt you to this day.

19. You know the difference between a clasp and a clap. Yes, they're different.

20. There's always a part of you that will miss cheering and it will always have a place in your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Doug Pool / Facebook

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Don't Be That Ole Miss Fan Who Leaves When Our Teams Need Our Support The Most

While most of the students and some of the fans ditched before the 4th quarter, it really surprised me how little support we showed our struggling team.

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After the beating we took last week from #1 Alabama, we all wanted to steer off the stadium until the next weekend. However, losing to the number one team in the nation shouldn't be depressing; they are number one for a reason.

While most of the students and some of the fans ditched before the 4th quarter, it really surprised me how little support we showed our struggling team. Yes, the game was exciting for a solid 11 seconds, but that doesn't mean that we should abort ship so soon.

I even caught myself wishing they would run the clock around the 3rd quarter, feeling as if this game was never going to end. And it wasn't until the very end of the game that I realized what we had been missing.

We had been missing support for our team. But not just football this weekend but every sport we have. If it isn't one of the big three, do you even care? I know that I didn't and sometimes still don't. Does anyone go to the women's rifle events? Do you know when the softball team plays? Do you even know if we have a hockey team?

Being an Ole Miss fan doesn't mean that we love either football, basketball, or baseball. Being an Ole Miss fan means that we love all three, and every other sport our students participate in.

I've heard from some members of the band that they were so impressed with the Vanderbilt student section, not because they were the rowdiest or best, but because after the football game, they all stayed, stood, and sang to their Alma Mater.

Do any of us even know our Alma Mater? I've met seniors who didn't even know we had one! Yes, its plastered on all the cups this year. Yes, its posted around campus. But do you know it, by heart? If you heard the tune, could you even identify it, much less sing along to it? Do you even know the words?

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't. I have approximately 20 or so cups that have it printed on there, yet I do not know the Ole Miss Alma Mater.

So, when we were getting ready to leave the game, it warmed and saddened my heart when our song played. It warmed my heart to see the remaining student section come together to sing and sway to our Alma Mater, but it saddened me to see how little of people there were to participate, especially since the stadium was packed mere hours earlier.

And if that isn't bad enough, our student section was a quarter empty after the 1st quarter. Imagine being a football player, looking out into the crowd to see your supporters and a quarter of them are gone before the beginning of the 2nd quarter. And every time you look back as the game progresses, more and more are gone until a small portion is left over, cheering you on.

Now, imagine that you are any other athlete in a non-recognized sport. Imagine all the hours you put into training, all the things that you have to miss out on, just for no one to be there supporting you. How disappointed would you feel?

We are an SEC school! We are a big deal! We are in the best conference in the world, competing against some of the best athletes across the country, and as a student and fan of this school, we should show our support not only to the big three but to all of them!

I dare you to branch out and go watch another sport! Stay for the full game, even if it takes all day. Try a new sport, it could be your favorite! Do it for the free t-shirts, do it for the concessions, do it for the free or cheap admissions fee. I don't care why you do it, but be like Nike and "just do it!" That is how we can be better! That is how we can be a better Ole Miss fan!

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