Soaring high with our Cheer 'Cats: Get to know the team behind the loud cheers
Red face paint, loud cheers and unique stunts that put you on the edge of your seats at sporting events. Sound oddly familiar? University of Arizona cheerleading is and always has been an integral part of Arizona Athletics and our local Tucson community.
Despite the fact that UA’s cheerleaders spend the majority of a sporting game on the sidelines, it is no doubt that they can be credited with helping Arizona’s sporting teams have so much success. The cheerleaders can be found bleeding Wildcat pride at numerous different athletic events on campus.
“Our team is co-ed and non-competitive. We cheer sidelines for football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and soccer,” said Alex Zamora, a four-year cheerleader and current senior. “We also do a ton of appearances and volunteer work throughout the community.”
As much of a commitment as it sounds, being a member of Arizona cheerleading comes with different responsibilities aside from being at sporting events. Off the field or court, UA’s cheer team can be seen giving back to the Tucson community.
“Just recently, we had Cheer Fest, which had kids from all different programs come out and learn a routine and perform it at halftime for one of the football games,” said Carter Marks, first-year cheerleader and current junior. “It was awesome seeing the kids have fun and rewarding to see that they look up to us.”
Even though being a member of Arizona cheerleading means being within breathing distance from the action, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into being a cheerleader at the UA.
“We practice Monday, Tuesday [and] Thursday from 6-8 a.m. We also have team workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Kristina Zamora, co-captain and a four-year cheerleader. “We have at least one game a week, but during some months, we have up to four to five games a week. We start cheer late July and go all the way through March.”
Between attending games, weekly meetings and team lifts, UA’s cheerleaders spend a lot of dedicated time with the program.
“Even though I’m fairly new to the team, I wish people knew how much of our time goes into what we do and how hard everyone works,” Marks said. “I never realized it before, but now it’s cool to get a different perspective on the program.”
Although Arizona cheerleading does not offer any academic scholarships, being a member of the program comes with an abundance of other benefits.
“Team members have the opportunity to travel for away and post season football games, select pre-season and post-season Men’s and Women’s basketball, and volleyball final four. Members of the University of Arizona Cheerleading and Mascot program receive uniforms, Nike attire, and equipment at no charge,” according to Arizona Athletics. “The Cheerleaders & Mascots have full use of Arizona Athletics facilities, including the student-athlete strength & conditioning facility, the athletics department academic center computer lab, Bear Down Kitchen, and the Kasser Medical Treatment Center.”
If you are interested in trying out for Arizona cheerleading, Alex Zamora encourages it.
“Go for it! Cheerleading has changed my life for the better. I didn’t originally plan on trying out for Arizona cheer, but I’m so glad I did. It was one of the best decisions of my life,” Zamora said. “Our male bases don’t have to have any prior experience in cheerleading. A lot of our boys played sports like football, baseball and soccer in high school and they wanted to continue to be a part of an athletic team.”
After being part of the program for a while, the cheerleaders create bonding memories, according to Kristina Zamora.
“My favorite part of being on cheer has been being so involved with the athletic teams. It’s an unforgettable experience being so close to the action, especially at football and basketball,” Kristina Zamora said. “Having a close team and being so involved on campus has really made my college experience incredible. My least favorite part of cheer is probably the early mornings. Those never get easier.”
The UA cheerleading team will continue to bleed red and blue and bear down on and off the field, no matter the circumstance.
Stay up to date with Arizona cheerleading on Twitter.
Follow Amit Syal on Twitter.