David Drucker/ Staff Writer
Head Coach Cory Hines thinks that cheerleading probably isn’t a sport. In fact, he believes that it’s all a little more complicated than that.
“When you think ‘what is cheerleading,’ you immediately think people on the side holding pompoms. That’s correct – that’s where cheerleading came from and I understand that completely. What people also have to realize is that cheerleading now has a very athletic and competitive component as well,” Hines said.
Florida International University cheer has evolved into an athletic group of men and women that not only boosts school spirit at football and basketball games, but also pushes fundamental athletics on its participants and does work in the community. The growing team saw nearly 70 people come out to their tryouts in May. Not all of them made the team.
“We do take people with no experience, but the majority of the girls have previous dance experience or sideline experience. We look for athletically capable people who can perform stunts when necessary,” Hines said.
The job of a cheerleader at FIU is no longer as simple as waving a pompom or holding up a sign; most cheerleaders are required to perform group stunts at events. This requires two “bases” and a “back-spot,” who is typically the taller person of the group, to lift a “flyer.” Their success – and safety – demands that the cheerleaders work together and that they all be athletic.
Most cheerleaders that audition for the fall are automatically retained for the spring, although separate tryouts may occur for the different seasons and for different positions based on need.
Being an FIU cheerleader isn’t a job restricted to the turf or the hardwood. The group is often present at community events and travels to compete in competitions.
“We fundraise all season long. We like to be seen, we like to be out there and let the community know that we’re active,” Hines said.
Ultimately, Hines believes that it’s important for his sport to perceived for what it is: an activity rooted in cheer and support that has evolved into beyond pompom waving.
“I totally understand the criticism about it not being a sport, but cheerleading is evolving even further. Now there is a Title Nine equivalent and an Olympic equivalent. Everything that used to be called cheerleading is developing into its own unique athletic activity. I don’t know if it’s a sport, but when you see everyone going on ESPN to compete in it… how can you not call that sport,” Hines said.