74 minutes with SMU Pom

SMU’s three time National Dance Alliance national champions work year round with football season in the fall, basketball season in the winter and attending NDA College Nationals each spring.

The pom squad trains or practices every school day for a total of about 10 hours per week (they learn a new routine before almost every game), team member Shannon Flaherty said. Unless of course there’s a home game that week, in which case they can take up to almost a full day with getting ready, practicing their routine, walking the Boulevard and spending time on the field.

Their beauty routines are multi-step and sometimes multi-day, with every pom member getting a mandatory spray tan and some even indulging in Drybar blowouts as pre-game rituals. Although she does her own hair, Flaherty wishes Drybar were a team sponsor similar to Spa810 or Tan Dallas, which offers the team free unlimited spray tanning, bed tanning and air brushing.

The Campus Weekly spent 74 minutes with two pom squad members before the SMU vs. TCU home game to learn everything that goes into prepping to cheer on the Mustangs.

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SMU Pom Squad Uniform Photo credit: India Pougher


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Photo credit: India Pougher


1:31 p.m. I arrive at the Tri Delta house to meet Flaherty, an SMU junior, to learn more about the team and everything that goes into getting ready for game day.

1:49 p.m. Flaherty and her roommate, fellow pom squad member Emma Hill start prepping for the game, with a “teen dance party” playlist playing in the background. They’ve actually been getting ready since the day before – Flaherty gets her nails done before every game (for a consistent team look they must either be nude, French or bare), and of course they spray tanned.

Many schools have come under fire for implementing spirit squad tryout regulations regarding how potential team members should look. Last spring, the University of Washington was scrutinized for its 29 beauty and body requirements for cheerleading tryouts. SMU, however, does not have such strict guidelines.

The audition requirements listed on the SMU spirit squad website simply state “we are looking for a collegiate image. Wear make-up and style your hair appropriately.”

“In general I think it’s important to look healthy and look your best – put your best foot forward,” Flaherty said. “We don’t have any kind of limitations or anything. One thing that they do say though is you should look how you are when you try out, so like you can’t change your hair color.”

Flaherty starts her beauty routine with makeup, which she says is “a lot heavier and more dramatic” than her daily look. She uses powder foundation for football games because it’s more matte and bright blush so that it shows up from far away. For eyeshadow the team sticks to browns and neutral colors, of which Flaherty says longer formulas are a must.

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The products Flaherty packs with her for touch ups before the game. Photo credit: India Pougher


2 p.m. Flaherty starts putting on her fake eyelashes (a must for every pom squad member). She uses Ardell brand lashes (she gets three wears out of each pair) and Duo brand eyelash glue. It’s clear that she’s an expert as she blows the glue dry to make it tacky before applying to her lid.

“I’ve been doing fake eyelashes probably since elementary school,” Flaherty said.

There’s a lot at stake here – her roommate’s lashes actually started melting off during the game before. The high at the TCU game was 93 degrees, but the turf makes it hotter in the stadium than it actually is outside, Flaherty said. In total the team wears 19 pairs of fake eyelashes on the field, and that’s not including the cheerleading squad.

2:05 p.m. Flaherty’s lashes are on and drying, but she adds just a little mascara to blend them together. She uses two different mascaras – one separating formula by Covergirl and one volumizing formula by Maybelline. For brows that standout she sticks to an Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow pencil.

2:10 p.m. Urban Decay setting spray is a must, and Flaherty usually waits to do her lips until right before the Boulevard. The team uses Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Fiery.” Her roommate is ready for Flaherty’s help with lashes (she’s also doing another girl’s hair later on the day).

“Shannon is like the beauty person on our team,” Hill said.

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Photo credit: India Pougher


2:15 p.m. Flaherty moves on to hair. The game day look is big curls, which she achieves with a Conair wand and Chi Iron Guard heat protectant.

2:24 p.m. “This is the fun part,” Flaherty said as she back-combs her hair into a giant bouffant. Teasing hair is a must for any game day spirit look and Flaherty achieves hers with Sebastian brand hairspray.

“We love hairspray,” Flaherty said.

2:32 p.m. Flaherty’s hair is done and she puts in her team earrings – giant rhinestone studs.

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Photo credit: India Pougher


2:45 p.m. Flaherty and Hill usually get dressed right before the Boulevard. The team has five uniforms overall – two for football and three for basketball, but for TCU they don the bright blue uniforms with red cowboy boots.

“I think every school kind of has their own look,” Flaherty said. “Ours is very interesting, like Texas themed with cowboy boots and everything.”

Before leaving for the team’s pre-Boulevard practice in the stadium, Flaherty packs her lipstick, powder, eyelash glue, blush and bronzer so that she can touch up before the game.

Flaherty originally told me the process would take around three hours, but she was dressed and ready in a little less than half that time.

“I would say our look is like really classic, all-American,” Flaherty said.

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Shannon Flaherty Photo credit: India Pougher


Before heading out on the field the team always shouts their mantra: #TeamPOE, which stands for “pom over everything” and invites the opposing team’s spirit squads to pray with them.

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Photo credit: India Pougher


Next up for the pom team will be the SMU football home game on November 5.

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