Stretching, planning and practicing, hopefuls joked around with one another, while waiting to prove their skills at the first meeting of UTD’s Comet Cheerleaders.
The 12 hopefuls were approximately the same number the squad had four years ago, said Co-Captain Dabney Sellars, senior business administration major, but she says there’s room for more.
“I cheered in high school, and I coach cheerleading as well at Severe Cheer in Garland,” Sellars said. She’s been cheerleading since eighth grade and coaching competitive training since her senior year at Garland’s Naaman Forest High.
Sellars credits Cheer Coach Chad DeArman with improving the team.
“When he came and started coaching, he started to push our team,” Sellars said. “He took our team to the next level.”
During the practice, DeArman worked one-on-one with students. Some students did not pick up the movements quickly, but they did not give up. DeArman said students must show a willingness to improve and a good attitude.
DeArman said no formal tryouts will take place. He said students have to come to the workout sessions and those chosen will be invited to perform.
However, those who are not chosen can still participate in the practice sessions and get help on improving their skills.
While DeArman gave tips, Sellars worked with five students, and Co-Captain Alan Linder, junior psychology major, helped the other four.
Linder said he never considered cheerleading before coming to UTD.
“I did it to get in shape for soccer,” Linder said. “I was taught by the Southwest Staffing Director for the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA).”
Linder has remained on the team since his freshman year at UTD and credits his former teacher with inspiring him to look at cheering as a serious sport.
“Through cheerleading, I plan to get a scholarship – a hefty scholarship – for grad school,” Linder said. “There are opportunities nationwide. Competitive schools pay 80 to 100 percent of your tuition, and there are Nike scholarships, which will even give you things like five free all-Nike outfits.”
Linder said he is proud of team improvement and the talent pool. However, he said, he wants to find new ways to retain members.
Without a football team, many students don’t think there are cheerleaders at UTD, Sellars said.
Sellars, an SGA member, said she was disappointed that there is no football team in UTD’s 10-year plan, but feels a scholarship program might help the team.
“At UTD we can’t really reward the cheerleaders with anything,” Sellars said. “If we were able to give a scholarship I think that we would be able to attract more people.”
Practice sessions will continue throughout the semester from 9-11 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays in the Activity Center’s Auxiliary Gym.
For more information, contact the cheerleaders by phone at 972-883-6158 or by e-mail at cheerandmascot(at)utdallas.edu.