Unaccredited Athletes of UVUReading Time: 2 minutes
The UVU Spirit Squad
Kyle Bruderer | Sports Writer | @brudkyle
Photo Credit: Gabi Campbell, Photo Editor, @gabicampbellphotos and Brooke Morrill, Photo Director, @brookemorrill
When you think of a typical collegiate athlete, sports like football, basketball, baseball, and a number of others come to mind. While many people will argue that cheer leading and dancing aren’t technically sports, no one can argue the fact that cheer leaders and dancers are undoubtedly athletes.
“What you see on the outside is fun and cute and entertaining or whatever you might want to call it, but you have to be in top notch physical shape,” said Spirit Squad head coach Carly Condie. “They are all doing rigorous athletic conditioning classes all of the time. These athletes don’t just have one season, it’s an all year thing that we start in April and end in April.”
Carly joined the Utah Valley State College dance team in 2001 and went on to become the coach in 2005. Even though the cheer and dance teams compete separately, a decision was made in 2006 to combine both of them into a collective program now known as the UVU Spirit Squad.
Last year the UVU dance team won the national championship competing in the largest division nationwide and will be defending their national title in April. The dancers typically practices up to 15 hours per week, but with nationals right around the corner they are in the middle of six hour daily practices known as boot camp.
Not only do these athletes perform at athletic events and compete nationally, their lives are much busier than you might think. In addition to doing public appearances, community engagement, university appearances and performances almost on a weekly basis they have to meet their scholastic requirements too.
“It’s hard, it’s really hard,” said Condie. “Within our audition and interview process we tell them that they have to maintain a 2.5 GPA and have a 2.5 GPA previous to auditioning. They have to be very diligent and capable of maintaining it, if they don’t pass the semester’s required criteria then they don’t continue in the group the next semester. They are required to take leadership courses and we talk about things that will happen beyond cheer and dance. They are here because they are good athletes and good at what they do, but they’re also here to be ambassadors for UVU. These students are over achievers and the busy schedule fuels their fire.”
Shame on any of us that have assumed that dancers and cheerleaders are less athletic or don’t have to put in as much work as perhaps a basketball player or a member of the track team. The Spirit Squad does not get the credit and praise that they deserve for their ability to balance such an extreme schedule with literally no off-season.
According to Condie, the previous seemingly unknown Wolverines have made a name for themselves and the university. “If you ask anyone in the cheer and dance industry about UVU and they’ll know who we are so that’s exciting.”