Club cheerleading team prepares for their first Homecoming Parade
Several clubs will participate in the University of Arizona Homecoming Parade on Saturday, Nov. 2, and one of those clubs is the UA Club Cheerleading Team. The cheer club is a sports club that competes against other cheer teams in tournaments throughout the year.
Club cheerleading is not to be confused with the sideline team that cheers at the UA football games. The club team cheers for other club sports and competes at a regional level. This is the team's fourth year as a recognized club and the first year that they will be participating in any Homecoming event.
The club plans to walk with a banner and interact with the crowd. Members will also perform a dance to the UA fight song, coordinated with the alumni band, who will be marching behind them.
“We like to look for all the opportunities that we can to get involved on campus,” said Evyn McGraw, president of the club. “Being a club sport, sometimes it’s a little more challenging to find opportunities to be involved. When we got an email asking if we want to participate, we got excited because we like to get involved on campus and feel like we are a part of the athletic atmosphere. Homecoming is a really exciting time because we have alumni and other students on campus."
The club also participates in the Ronald McDonald House walk every year as its philanthropic event and performs at several competitions and demos. Participating in Homecoming is just another event to add to the club’s already busy schedule.
“Right now, we are really working hard to get our routines together and get prepared before winter break, because once we come back, that is our go time for us,” McGraw said. The group will compete at USA Nationals in Anaheim, California, in the spring. After that, the club will be getting geared up for National Cheerleaders Association College Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla., in April.
According to McGraw, the club is very excited to see the alumni come back and show them that they are involved with the school and growing more as a club.
“Since we are a new program, basically our alumni are only people that have graduated in the last year or two. But the really cool thing is [that] they are the ones that found[ed] this team and started from scratch,” McGraw said. “It was something a lot of people said we couldn’t do because we already have a sideline cheering team here. It’s cool to see them come back and see how far we’ve grown and for them to be able to participate with us.”
McGraw said that she believes this experience will also be a good way to market their club and get their name out there. As a new team she is aware that not many people may know about the cheer club and there could be potential new members out in the crowd. Maddison Ballard, the vice president of the club, agreed.
“I think it will definitely give us more exposure and maybe there [are] freshmen that didn’t know there is a competitive cheerleading team on campus,” Ballard said. “They’ll see us in the parade and maybe think about trying out next year.” Ballard said
The parade brings exposure to clubs and has a welcoming vibe for the clubs on campus, Ballard continued.
“If that club is in the parade it brings a little light to them,” Ballard said. “They get their moment in front of a big crowd. People see a float and see a team walking and they may have not known they existed and maybe those people want to get involved in the clubs.”
Ballard believes the Homecoming parade is about celebrating the school and showering love for the school’s teams and clubs. It’s about having UA pride.
“I’m all about school spirit,” Ballard said. “I love the campus. I love the University of Arizona and being able to celebrate our campus, celebrate the people that have graduated from here and just the university. It’s exciting.”
The club was not able to make a float this year due to lack of funding. Building a float is too expensive for this year, according to club members. But they are looking forward to the chance of create one next year. The team does not get funding from Division One sports; they must instead build the funding themselves.
According to Jessy Forelli, the club treasurer, they bought new pom-poms, uniforms and megaphones for the occasion. Forelli is also involved with Homecoming outside of the club, being on the Mortar Board to determine who obtains the title of Homecoming King.
The club has been practicing several chants and cheers for the parade at late-night practices on Mondays and Wednesdays. Hearing these cheers may be challenging because they'll be in front of a loud band, but that gives them the opportunity to dance and show off moves to the music.
“We have been practicing a few patterns where the front line will start a certain motion and the team will follow on and it will change throughout the song to keep it constantly changing,” Forelli said.
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There will be a table with judges judging the school spirit for each of the clubs in the parade.
“The purpose of cheerleading is to promote school spirit and promote pride,” Forelli said. “[The parade] really matters to our club because we are finally entering this stage of being recognized across campus and being able to compete with other club sports and other D1 sports. It’s to show [the UA] that we are here, that we are proud, that we are working hard and want to represent the U of A as a strong testament to how hard we are working both in the past and in this year.”
The cheer club is excited and ready for their performance at the Homecoming parade on Nov. 2.
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