College Dance Team Central

Sunday, September 23, 2007

On Game Day, Not All Athletes Wear Cleats

Dance, cheer teams bring energy, color to the field

By Amanda Walck
The Campus Press

Senior Jacqueline Brumley practices her routine during halftime of the Buffalo s 16-6 loss against Florida State on Saturday, Sept. 15. Brumley is an Integrated Physiology Major and is a first year member of the Cheer Squad. (CP Photo/Eli Lieberman)

At every home football game, Folsom Field is filled with fans ready to cheer the Buffs to victory.

With all the focus on the football team and their performance, people can sometimes forget about the other varsity athletes that play a huge role on game day. They are perhaps the biggest Buff fans of all -- the CU Cheer Squad and the CU Express Dance Team.

During each game, the cheer and dance teams support the Buffs and energize the fans. They thrive on the excitement of the stadium, doing what they do best in front of a huge crowd.

The cheerleaders, dance team, and Chip the mascot are collectively known as The Colorado Spirit.

For many of the cheerleaders, the beginning of the game is the most exhilarating.

"When Ralphie runs, the crowd gets so excited and pumped up. It's such a great tradition that we get to be a part of," said Amanda Yates, a senior who has been on the cheer squad for four years.

Games that involve low scores can be especially hard for The Colorado Spirit because the crowd can at times lose focus.

"When we're losing, the whole morale of the fans goes down. They disengage, and it can be really frustrating when we try to get them back into it," said Allison Meine, a senior who has also been on the cheer squad for four years.

The teams do know how to get a crowd on their feet, especially when they have something to cheer about. Members of both squads have been practicing their sport since a young age, and have a lot of experience in putting on a show.

"Pretty much everyone on the team started dancing at like age three," said Liz Harris, second year coach of the dance team.

Not only do both squads have a passion for being in front of a crowd, but they also put a lot of hard work into their sport. Each team has three-hour practices three days of the week and two-hour workouts the other two days. Practices are even more thorough in preparation for games.

"Practice is always more focused the week before a game. We work on time-outs, stunts, periods, all of it," Yates said.

Many of the girls on the dance team have recently been introduced to the rigors of a home game week. Out of the 16 girls on the team this year, 12 are freshmen. Although they have a lot of new faces, the team is looking forward to the new season.

"I have a really talented team this year," Harris said.

In addition to appearing at the home football games, the dance team performs at volleyball games and at men's and women's basketball games.

"We like the football games, but basketball is much more personal. Plus we get to dance at halftime," said Jamie Gordon, sophomore dance team member.

The male fans of the dance team seem to have the most fun at the football games.

"They'll be like 'that one's my favorite!' They'll even count it out and say '5-6-7-8!' Some guys get really into it," Harris said.

However, some guys take their love for the dance team ladies a little farther.

"It can be a little creepy. Guys like to throw us things with their numbers on them," sophomore Lauren Giangregorio said.

In addition to supporting CU teams, both the cheer squad and the dance team compete nationally every year. In 2007, the cheerleaders will be going to the National Cheerleading Association championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the dance team will attend the National Dance Association competition.

"Competitions are my favorite part of the season. I'd say probably 70 percent of us are that way," junior Justin Gibbs said.

To raise money for the squad, the dance team shot a calendar, which will be available before the end of the football season.

Competitions and games aside, the role of the cheer squad at CU encompasses something much more important.

"We have a huge presence in the community, and we have been able represent CU in such a positive way. That is so important to our program," Head Coach Travis Prior said.

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