Family and friends watch as cheerleaders try out for the UA program.
Imagine the feeling of being hoisted six feet into the air and then, with your foot poised on a surface about the width of a soda can, balancing your weight in a pose before tucking in for a dismount.
That is only one of the athletic skills required for members of the UA Cheerleaders, who perform during football games, volleyball games and men's and women's basketball games. Team members also engage in community outreach and service work.
This month, dozens of young men and women from across the nation and, in some cases, across the world, visited the UA to try out for a spot as a cheerleader.
As a member of the squad at the UA, cheerleaders have to learn floor routines, perform dance motions and cheers as well as execute stunts. Lots of stunts and dance moves include: handsprings, various toss hands moves, triple turns, kicks, running tumbling, splits and split jumps and other moves.
During the tryouts, the tension was high at times.
Cuts were made every day over the three-day tryout period. Those vying to make the squad also had to learn the UA fight song and chants, perform routines and give interviews.
On the third day, 23 new cheerleaders were announced. They are:
- Ashley Pradetto from Greensboro, North Carolina
- Megan Bouley from Phoenix
- Andrew Maggio from Phoenix
- Madisen McCartin from Tucson
- Sabrina Bigelow from Phoenix
- Catlin Henderson from Phoenix
- James Hosobe from Gilbert, Arizona
- Kacie Ireland from Littleton, Colorado
- Mariah Willard from Phoenix
- Jessica Guardado from Tucson
- Aaron Graboswska from Oakdale, Minnesota
- Lauren Austin from Sierra Vista, Arizona
- Cesar Arzola from Phoenix
- Colton Dabney from Longmont, Colorado
- Khalid Gordon-Thaniel from Indianapolis
- India Hardaway from Santa Ana, California
- Raquel Rodriguez from Morgantown, West Virginia
- Quin Silvernail from Phoenix
- Sabrina Suarez from Nogales, Arizona
- Daniel Tannen from Albuquerque
- Troose Sidy Ouagadougou from Burkina Faso, West Africa
- Sarah Turner from Scottsdale, Arizona
- Ciro Minopoli from Tucson
After earning a spot, cheerleaders are required to attend at least three morning practices and up to three conditioning practice sessions each week.
The team's training camp practices and workout sessions begin in late July, and cheerleaders also participate in the Universal Cheerleaders Association Summer College Spirit Camp.
In addition to their athletic duties, cheerleaders fundraise thousands of dollars for the team and are expected to be accountable and responsible, with strong time management skills. As team members, they do not receive any tuition scholarships however some are able to qualify for a small book scholarship provided through the Cheer/Mascot Endowment and the Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat Mascot Endowment. To make a contribution in support of the UA Cheerleaders, visit the UA Foundation online.
Photography credit: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews
Bella Maytorena (center) listens as UA staff members and cheerleaders talk about what is required in the program.
Catlin Henderson stretches on the first day of cheerleading tryouts.
Daniel Tannen (72) and Cesar Arzola (23) join others in a break between stunts.
Alyssa Brown streches as she awaits the first round of cuts.
Christina Close, like the other cheerleaders trying out, had to perform everything from basic to advanced stunts.