HOUSTON – Just like the game they cheer for, these ladies say that without a passion for the sport you will never make it as a cheerleader.
Houston cheerleaders hosted their annual mini-camp for future cheerleaders last week and talked a little about what it takes to grab a pom-pom, megaphone and run on the field with the football team.
“It’s all about passion,” said Claire Alford. “If you don’t have it in your heart, it shows and you won’t last long.”
The Houston Hilltopper Cheerleaders talked about the physical effort it takes to be a cheerleader. They also talked about the emotional effort it takes to keep the fans and team going late in the fourth quarter when things don’t look good.
“I don’t think people realize how much training and practice we go through,” said Michaela Upshaw. “And then there is the running and all the things we do to stay in shape.”
Upshaw said no one likes a tired looking cheerleader and it is each girl’s responsibility to make sure they are in the right physical condition to look fresh and happy at the end of the game.
And Alford said emotional strength is also important to a cheerleader.
“You have to smile and keep everybody’s spirit up even if you are losing,” said Alford. “There are times in the season when you don’t want to smile, but that’s part of the job.”
Ariona Gordillo said cheering is new to her and there has been a lot to learn.
“You definitely have to have a passion for this,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I love it.”
Sponsor Laken Upshaw said cheerleaders get a bad rap.
“It is classified as a sport and that means we practice, we have drills and a plan for every game,” said Upshaw. “We run a lot and when it comes time for competition it really gets serious.”
Upshaw was a Houston High School cheerleader and also cheered in college.
“I don’t think they realize the friendships and memories they are making as a cheerleader,” said Upshaw. “It is an honor and there are people who look up to them. They will look back one day and realize how much they enjoyed it and what it did for them.”
And Upshaw said, just like the football team, every cheerleader has to tryout and earn the right to step on the field in a Hilltopper uniform.
“They are just like all other student/athletes in that they have to pass their classes or they can’t cheer and they have to reflect the high standards of Houston athletics,” said Upshaw. “Being a cheerleader demands a lot, but it also give a lot back.”
Houston Cheerleaders finished up their mini camp last week with a performance for parents on Friday.
Youngsters attending the camp earned awards and honors. And they also got to stand up, show some passion and cheer their team on.