You wake up early on a Saturday morning and walk to Moody Coliseum. At 9 a.m., it begins. You have two hours to learn a cheer and a chant, plus every word to the ACU fight song.
Every practice and clinic comes down to whether you can learn everything in two hours. Then, you face the judges – the professional judges. You are expected to know how to flip, tumble and toss. You are expected to keep a huge smile on your face while inside you are trying your best to remember every detail of the routine.
After the routine, you have a few hours to worry and wonder what you could have done better. At 4 p.m., the results are posted on the front doors of Moody.
Welcome to this Saturday for every man or woman who wants to be an ACU cheerleader.
“To be a part of the squad is an awesome honor,” said Mary Shive, freshman speech pathology major from North Richland Hills. “I absolutely love it.”
Women who have been on the squad for two or more years are given an exemption and do not have to try out. But they are required to stay in shape and come to every practice and game.
In addition to the five hours of practice a week, all cheerleaders are expected to attend every football game (unless it is more than a day’s drive away), every home volleyball game and every home basketball game (men’s and women’s).
“When you get out there at your first football game, you get nervous,” said Tori McFadden, freshman nursing major from San Antonio. “After that, cheerleading becomes your life.”
Because cheerleading isn’t an NCAA-sanctioned sport, the women have to raise funds on their own. Washing cars, instructing at junior cheer clinics and “carhopping” at Sonic are just a few of the jobs they have to take on to raise money.
Trish Mosley, wife of athletic director Jared Mosley, coaches the women throughout the year.
“I expect the girls to be visible around campus all year promoting our teams,” Mosley said. “Our big thing is getting people to come to games.”
The cheerleaders also participate in the Homecoming Parade and make snacks for the football players before playoff games.
“I love having personal relationships with the players I am cheering for,” McFadden said. “I like cheering for them by name and talking to them around campus.”
For Shive and McFadden, both 11-year cheerleading veterans, this Saturday will be the most stressful day of the year. They’ll just have to do their best to calm their nerves and hope the judges like what they see.