It’s 1 p.m. on Sunday and Moody Coliseum is filled with people ready to cheer on the Mustangs against UCF. On the sidelines are the SMU cheerleaders, whose presence consistently helps make up the energy known as “Moody Magic”.
Unlike football, when the entire SMU Cheerleading team cheers at every game, only 10 cheerleaders are assigned to each game for basketball season. These 10 cheerleaders are given the responsibility to hype up the crowd and support the team. The cheerleaders sit on the sideline, as close as they can get to the court, creating a more intimate overall experience than football.
Freshman cheerleader Quinn Callier feels that cheering for basketball is more directed towards encouraging the players, whereas football is more directed towards entertaining the crowd.
“[It’s great] being right under the basket and getting to see the players’ emotions,” Callier said. “It’s cool knowing they can hear you.”
With the cheerleaders on the sideline and the pom team dancing on the lower section bleachers, they help make Moody Coliseum feel full, regardless of empty seats. The loud chants throughout the game and short dances during breaks are all in an effort to illuminate the atmosphere.
It is the cheerleader’s responsibility to know all chants and dance routines for basketball games because they are not reviewed at practice. The team’s three practices a week are the only time the whole team is together and are used to practice their competition routine.
It is often forgotten that the SMU cheerleading team competes nationally against other Division 1 teams.
“[I enjoy] cheering for basketball because our team gets to perform more routines, which showcases our competitive side that isn’t often seen at football games,” Callier said.
For many, cheering for a Division 1 team is a dream come true, but the road to getting an SMU uniform isn’t easy.
“It’s crucial to have a good background of tumbling or gymnastics because it’s easier to teach someone to stunt than tumble. You also have to be a great performer, it’s not enough to just smile. You have to know how to put on a show and make people want to watch you,” said junior cheerleader Sarah Bilton.
The SMU cheerleaders do back tucks frequently throughout the basketball games and must feel confident enough in their tumbling skills to perform skills on the hard wooden floor of Moody Coliseum.
Freshman Ally Aldama is currently in the middle of cheering for her first basketball season and is appreciative of what the program has brought to her college career.
“It has taught me how to be responsible and hard-working,” Aldama said. “It also makes me so much more appreciative of our school spirit and what it stands for because I’m able to attend most events and see all of the students, faculty, and fans come together to support the Mustangs.”