Cheerleading Places 2ndBy Hillary Stanton
After a quick cheer for luck, the MIT cheerleaders took the mat at the Mounties Invitational Cheerleading Competition in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on Saturday, taking second place with the routine they had been working on for months.
The MIT cheerleading squad, though not a varsity sport, existed at MIT in 1963 and was recently revived in 1998. Last fall however, captains Laura E. Babcock ’04, Grace A. Chou ’05, and Susanna Liu ’05 decided to form a separate competition squad. In addition to a game squad that cheers for the football and basketball teams at home games, there is now a competition squad that competes in cheerleading competitions held in the New England region. The new competition squad had tryouts in the fall and formed a team of 22 members.
Unlike squads from many other colleges, MIT Cheerleading faces many barriers in preparing for competition. As club sport, they have limited space for practicing their routine and stunts. They also do not have a coach or padded mats for safety at their convenience, thus restricting higher level stunting during certain practices. While other colleges only accept people with cheerleading experience, MIT accepts individuals with absolutely no experience and trains them from the beginning. What’s most impressive is that while most cheerleading squads practice 12 hours a week, the MIT squad is only able to meet for four hours each week. “The MIT Competition squad has a lot of potential, and given the limited time, course load, and level of experience we have, I think we achieved an amazing level of skill,” said co-captain Liu. “To be able to compete with these other squads is incredible.”
Four other colleges attended the competition on Saturday, including UMass Dartmouth (a college nationally renowned for its cheerleading program), Worcester State College, Westfield State College, and Endicott College. After some technical problems with their music, the MIT cheerleaders still managed to place second in the Co-ed division. “I am really quite proud of our squad. Just a couple years ago it was unthinkable that MIT would even attempt a cheerleading competition,” said co-captain Chou. The squad will compete again on April 3 in Woburn, Massachusetts.