By MATTHEW LEIBOWITZ
The past three years have been defining, according to club cheer captain Tianni Sicam, a senior sociology major.
“I first was interested in club cheer when I was a freshman and at that point, the club wasn’t really a high functioning cheer team,” said Sicam. “We just got back stunting because we had too many concussions and lost our privileges. And then last year, the 2017-2018 season, we won a championship.”
The transition into a competition winning team is never easy, especially when the team is still trying to prove themselves to the school around them. Although it is highly involved and dangerous, there is a common misconception that cheer is not a real sport.
“I’m bruising already from this season. There are also so many injuries like last season, [I] was beat up most of the season. I had a concussion and I bit through my lip. So it was [intense] for me,” said Sicam.
None of that stops the cheer captain from pushing for a more official future.
“I joined last season and I did see a little sneak peek of it when I was a freshman (‘15-’16), but last year was my first year on the team. We’re the only cheerleading team here so it’s just crazy [because] we’re not technically a sport so we have to stay a club. It’s really upsetting,” said Sicam.
Despite these obstacles, the team is growing in a positive manner.
“I do really enjoy that this season it seems like it’s been more positive than it has before. So that’s really nice. We go into practice and everyone is really encouraging [because] we did take in a lot of girls that are new this year. We have mostly a freshman team. There are nine freshmen and then we have at least five sophomores so it’s a lot of underclassmen. It’s really nice to see them all just be encouraging,” said Sicam.
This is an important focus for the team moving forward. As Sicam is a senior, she wants to see an improvement in retention and to help form a team she can see flourish after she departs.
“As a captain, what I want to leave is a team that’s well bonded and see that we’re going to retain girls,” said Sicam. “I would really hope that the team is able to actually push forward and become a sport because that’s a goal we’ve been looking for a while now. Especially after winning our first competition, it seems pretty important to show that we are good enough to do this. We’ve tried several times so right now we’re in a [really long] process where [we] have to go in front of the board and [say] why we think we should be a sport,” said Sicam.
The team has high hopes for this season though, as the competition in the spring grows near, they are prepared to do what it takes to see the finals again.
“Right now, during our fall semester, we have two practices for our competition team because we do have two teams. And then in the spring, we’ll have up to three practices and those practices go from two-hour practices up to three [hours]. We actually go to a gym and practice there and we basically just run our routine full out for two hours. So we just continuously do it until it’s perfect. We practice in the aux gym but then when we want a spring floor, which is easier for cheer so that when you tumble it’s not as strenuous on your body, we go to Fusion which is a cheerleading gym that’s a little bit down the road,” said Sicam, describing the team’s training.
The championship, though, will be much different this year than it was in the past.
“So as of right now, we’re looking at different competitions because they have changed our grading scale. We are thinking we are going to do the same competition we have done in the past but it’s basically scored on being tight, throwing the highest stunts, the highest level of stunts. We do baskets so we throw a girl and they have to do a backflip in it and then we have to catch them. But it comes down to so many things and technique is the biggest [one]. And being clean and putting our best routine out there is really important,” said Sicam.
Regardless of the changes to come, the team is more than ready for the competition to come. For them, it is not just to compete, but it’s also a time to grow closer and an opportunity to show what they have worked for. Sicam described it as, “we [try] to do a lot of bonding before a comp because I think that’s just really important. We go to ocean city for competition and we all room together and we basically drive and make the drive about getting to know the people you’re rooming with and then we do team dinners and [every] year somebody makes paper plates and we give those out in the middle of our [competition]. [We] have two days [where we] compete the first day and [give out] our paper plates for rewards that we think people deserved over the season. [The] second day we put our best routine on the floor and hope for the best.”