Saturday, October 25, 2014

Raising their voices for the fans

The Flames cheerleading squad competes nationally and rallies the crowd at Liberty sporting events

Commitment — Liberty cheerleaders display their team spirit during the football team’s loss at Kent State, Aug. 29. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Commitment — Liberty cheerleaders display their team spirit during the football team’s loss at Kent State, Aug. 29. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

No one will ever win the debate of whether or not cheerleading is a sport, but one thing is for sure, the Liberty University cheerleading squad works incredibly hard to do what they do.

“I don’t think cheerleading is a sport per se, but I think my cheerleaders are athletes,” Head Coach Jennifer Sydnor said. “I know my athletes work really hard and do things that a lot of people cannot do.”

According to Sydnor, the Liberty cheerleading squad practices four days a week and works on strength and conditioning two to three times a week.

The squad is made up of approximately 46 members, which is split into two different squads, the red squad and the white squad.

Sydnor explained that the red squad is mostly made up of upperclassmen, and it competes at the Universal Cheerleading Competition in January each year.

The Flames have placed every year they have competed in the competition, capturing fifth the first year, ninth the second year and sixth this past year.

“We, of course, want to hit a perfect routine and get first place,” junior member Morgan Hoeritz said. “But it is also important to know that everything we do is for the glory of God, and we are there to
represent him.”

Hoeritz and senior Rachael Calloway agreed that placing at nationals is a main goal of theirs, but that there are more important things than just a title.

“Everything we do is for God’s glory, so being a light to other schools means more to us than a title,” Calloway said. “However, we are going to work just as hard as anyone else to place in the top five.”

Liberty’s white squad is made up of mostly underclassmen. According to Sydnor, this squad competes at Christian Cheerleading of America nationals in March.

Liberty University’s cheerleaders not only compete in competitions throughout the year, but they are also responsible for cheering at football games, volleyball games and both men’s and women’s basketball games.

“I put a lot of hard work and effort into being a Liberty cheerleader,” Calloway said. “Being an athlete means to train when no one is watching. Putting in extra time will ultimately show in the end.”

While cheerleading often goes unnoticed, Liberty team members show dedication and effort in practice, games and competitions.

“I have been cheering for almost 12 years, and it has always been a huge part of my life,” Hoeritz said. “I love competing at nationals and being able to be a light in a totally secular environment. I honestly would not know what to do with my life if I did not cheer.”

Sydnor expressed her gratitude for being able to be a part of Liberty’s squad.

“As a coach, the Lord brought me here (and) … I know that my heart is to give back to the athletes,” Sydnor said.

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