Dixie State University cheerleaders don’t stop until they get it right.
Kristi Shaw, seven-year DSU head cheer coach, holds practice at 6 a.m. in the Burns Arena.
Captain Kami Jones, a business administration major from Liberty, led the first part of practice. Shaw shared her thoughts on whether or not her cheerleaders are athletes.
“People who don’t think you have to be an athlete to cheer are uneducated and unfamiliar about the requirements and the physical endurance it takes to be a cheerleader,” Shaw said.
The team executed repetition after repetition, and Shaw would harp on them after every miscue, reminding them to point their toes or tuck their elbows. If they didn’t get it right, they did it again, again and again.
I met up with Jones before another two hour practice at 8 p.m. to ask her how she felt about the lack of respect shown toward her sport.
“If they tried it, they would think it was a sport,” Jones said. “Cheerleading is so physically demanding.”
The cheerleaders started in a circle and one by one they executed a backhand spring. Once a full rotation was reached, they did it again, and they repeated this 15 times. This was just a warm up. A quick water break, and it was on to 10 standing back tucks.
Next, they practiced basket tosses and then split up to work on individual tumbling techniques. Some of the girls are able to pull off difficult tumbling pass called a full twisting layout. A full back flip with a 360-degree rotation incorporated while keeping your body as straight as possible.
Lastly, they worked on a standing three-level pyramid. Not only did this display athleticism, but also extremely high levels of teamwork and discipline.
“Cheer has taught me so much,” Jones said. “It’s taught me to be on time, and when you make a commitment to your team and you don’t show up, it affects everyone.”
Ashley Howe, a business major from Magna, said she cheers because it’s fun.
“We get to pump up the crowd and get involved with the school, so it’s worth it,” Howe said.