Tiger Insider Sneak Peek: 28 Questions for a Cheerleader

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Does Tommy Bowden have time to recover from Clemson's 30-0 loss to Georgia? The case for Tommy Bowden by Roy Martin.
Does Tommy Bowden have time to recover from Clemson's 30-0 loss to Georgia? The case for Tommy Bowden by Roy Martin.

28 Questions You Always Wanted To Ask A Cheerleader

College football without cheerleaders would be like, well, what exactly would the Lakers be without the Laker Girls. Technically, they don’t figure into the final score, but who could argue their value?

There are those that say the cheerleaders don’t add anything to the game. Those people would be wrong. Fans nowadays need as much cheerleading as ever. If only some of the curmudgeons that sit on the 50-yard line and cheer only when the quarterback who’s grown out of favor is replaced would take a few cues from cheerleaders as to when it’s appropriate to cheer the college game would be better all around.

We recently had a chance to talk to Clemson cheerleader Courtney Cranford as she took a break between classes. She’s a senior marketing major when she’s not on Clemson’s sideline leading cheers. She’s been on the Clemson sideline for a while. We asked her to reflect on some important issues…such as, if caps are going retro (if you never threw away that Clemson pro-stripe with the mesh back, you’re in luck) then maybe pom poms should do the same. We got her answers to that question and more.

Tiger Insider: How long have your been cheering for Clemson?

Courtney Cranford: This will be my fourth year.

TI: What was the first tryout like?

CC: It was nerve racking. We had to do a JV tryout and it was in the fall. A lot of girls show up. 40…I guess…40 or 50 maybe.

TI: What’s the biggest mistake that girls make that keep them off the squad?

CC: A lot of people don’t realize the difference between high school cheerleading and college cheerleading…some of the tumbling we do. A lot of them aren’t as prepared as they should be.

TI: What’s the one thing that would surprise people about being a cheerleader?

CC: When people watch us they don’t realize how much athletic ability goes into it and how much goes into the routine and stuff like that. A lot of people think of a cheerleader as just being on the sidelines and football games. It’s different when you get into competition part of it.

TI: What’s more important in cheerleading – the cheering or the gymnastics?

CC: It’s two completely different things. In football that’s our job – to cheer and get the crowd going and getting everybody involved into the game. That’s what most important as far as football guess. The skills, they definitely go second in football.

TI: Are there some schools that gear toward the competitions and not cheering?

CC: Some may but most do a pretty good job of keeping the two separate. Most of them do a really good job of doing the game day stuff.

TI: What are some of the strengths of the squad this year?

CC: Our team…really we have a good squad because everyone gets along. With everyone getting along you have better attitudes and that makes people want to work harder during practice. When you know that everyone is enjoying it, you want to be there and it just makes it a lot more fun.

TI: What are some of the perks of being a cheerleader?

CC: The football games are so much fun. Getting to travel and see the different school and stuff. Just being down on the field is exciting.

TI: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?

CC: Either last year when they were all over the goal post or when we went to Maryland two years ago and they tore down the goal posts and completely carried them off the field. We were almost running because they had students carrying the goal posts and they were coming in our direction.

TI: What are some of the rules? What if you showed up with a tattoo on your bicep?

CC: Most of that stuff has to be covered up. We can’t have any piercings or anything. We have to be very careful of how we act when we’re in Clemson cheerleading stuff. They make it…I’m trying to think how to put it….we just have to know how to act in front of people.

TI: Do you have cheers that you want to do shot down?

CC: We’ve had a change in coaching from last year to this year. Last year he wanted to bring back some of the older cheers like Beat Georgia, Beat Georgia, Beat the Hell out of Georgia. Which those are some of the older more traditional cheers but some of the older people don’t like having the cussing. I don’t really know what he was thinking last year. We did it, but we didn’t have a very good response to it.

TI: Do you participate in the woo hoo?

CC: We do, but we didn’t start it. People get mad at us about it and they get mad at us for yelling it because some people join in and some people don’t. I know a lot of people don’t like that and get mad when people do it. But we didn’t start that one.

TI: A cheer you want to go away? Like the wave…I thought that would be history around 1989.

CC: We do it every once in a while but not very often. The only thing I wish we could do better or I wish people would get into more is when the do the Orange and White cheer. I would like them to be more involved. It sounds so much better when people are into it.

TI: Do get a reaction out of people most of time when you’re cheering?

CC: The student section is the best section to cheer in front of, especially the people right in front. They get into it. Once you get on the other side – on the away side but it’s still Clemson fans – they just kinda look at you. It’s almost like cheering to a wall. The student section is definitely the best section, plus you have the mic man and everything. They kinda get into it more when they hear someone leading the cheers.

TI: Is it better to have a mic man?

CC: I think so. Last year sometimes they didn’t like him because he was real monotone with his cheers. But we’ve had ones with a lot of personality that really get the crowd going. Then, it’s good to have one.

TI: Do the rally cats get more than their fair share of attention when they show up for a football game?

CC: I really don’t think so because there aren’t that many of them. I really don’t think they get that much attention at all.

TI: Biggest myth about cheerleaders?

CC: I guess the biggest thing…they’re not all dumb and there’s no like eating disorders or anything and none of them date football players.

TI: Back on the tattoo…what if it was a tattoo of Charlie Whitehurst?

CC: Oh gosh, it would have to be covered up. When we go to camp if we have instructors that have tattoos they have to have Band Aids on them or something. It would definitely have to be covered up.

TI: How much do you pay attention to the game?

CC: I like to pay attention, but we’re really not supposed to. We’re supposed to be able to see if something exciting happens or something like that. But sometimes we get it trouble because we sit there and watch and we’re supposed to be cheering. I mean that’s kinda hard because you need to know what’s going on and when to cheer and when not to cheer.

TI: Ever known a cheerleader that had no idea what happened once the game was over?

CC: Oh yeah.

TI: Last time a coach thanked you?

CC: I think in basketball they’ll say something to us every once in a while, but we really don’t see the football coaches really. The only reason we see the basketball is because we’re in closer quarters with them.

TI: Are some of the stunts you do during basketball timeouts too risky?

CC: Not really. One of the biggest things is the girls have to know the guys are going to catch them or you really can’t do them. They girls just have to feel comfortable in the air. You have to know that if you fall you’re going to have a guy underneath you whether you’re all on the ground or not they’ll catch you. They’re not too risky because we practice them and make sure everybody has a spot. Everybody knows who they’re supposed to be spotting.

TI: What makes a guy want to cheer?

CC: The girls. That’s what gets them started because they’ll say, ‘Hey, you want to try this?’ Once you get them to try it most of them like it and will stick with it because it’s challenging, the stunts. They don’t like the cheering part. But they like the stunts. So once you get them started they stay there, but the girls get them there.

TI: Most have to build up to do it or do the guys that aren’t in shape not come out?

CC: A little of both we don’t really have guys that come out. So we have to find guys that and we try to find the bigger guys. They have to keep working out, but a lot of them have to get a lot bigger because we have small guys.

TI: Do you ever get annoyed with the TV camera pointing your way?

CC: No, that’s fun. That’s cool because your friends are like, ‘Hey, I saw you on TV’ and you’re like ‘Hey, that’s neat.’

TI: Do the cameras ever catch you off guard?

CC: Sometimes, or they’ll sit there forever and you don’t know what to do and you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again…Go Tigers. Just keep yelling and you go ‘That’s enough, you can go away now.’

TI: What do you think about the idea of retro pom-poms?

CC: I think that would be a bad thing. I think we should keep our pom poms the way they are. We still have pom poms but they’re palm sized. They’re not quite as big as they used to be.

TI: Do you consider cheerleaders to be athletes?

CC: Yes. I do. We all do. We practice a lot and we work out a lot. Even though a lot of it is jumping up and down and yelling there’s a lot more that goes into it especially with the stunting and tumbling. We work out and lift like other athletes. We all consider ourselves athletes.

TI: How long before the college cheerleaders are like pros?

CC: I really think it’ll stay very different. I think that almost like pro cheerleading it’s like a dance team kind of thing. Plus, I think the students and alumni expect a certain type of cheerleader at the college games. And I don’t think the athletic dept would ever go toward the pro style cheerleader.

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