by Madelyn Carter|Staff Writer
Thousands of fans in the audience, the beat of the band’s drums, and a possible ESPN zoom-in on your stunts- these elements make up the atmosphere of a college cheer performance. As if getting into one of the most prestigious colleges in Texas wasn’t enough, senior Hayley Held stepped up to the challenge to become a Texas Longhorn cheerleader in the next school year. Cheerleading has been a part of her life since the fourth grade.
“I liked [cheerleading because] you had to work as a team, and I became really close with the other girls,” Held said. “I did other sports, but I love cheerleading, because it was just in my family; my other two sisters did it.”
Held’s cheerleading career at Johnson was exceptionally impressive, as she was varsity captain for the 2010-2011 year.
“[Johnson cheer] was really great, I made awesome friends,” Held said. “My two best friends are in cheerleading, and I made other great friends too.”
The flawless cheering seen at football games and in competition is not perfected without dedication and hard work.
“It was very time-consuming, because we practiced six times a week- sometimes two-and-a -half hours every day. It taught me a lot about working with people and how to manage my time.”
Why Hayley picked UT isn’t a mystery; it’s a coveted university academically, and possesses enticing traditions. Not to mention: burnt orange practically runs in her blood.
“Both of my parents went there, and it’s kind of a family tradition. It’s the only place I applied to,” Held explains. “I knew I’d fall in love with it, and when I visited I loved everything about it!”
Hayley goes on to describe how different (and surprisingly more-relaxed) college cheer is in comparison to high school.
“The tryouts were really laid-back, it was just like a practice,” Held said. “In high school, you were just alone with the judges, but at the UT tryouts you worked out with all the returning members and the new girls. There were a series of cuts throughout it, but we didn’t find out if we made it until a few days later.”
Last year’s Johnson varsity captain Layne Hutcheson tried out for UT cheer last year, but made a different team than Held.
“I’m on all-girl [cheer squad], but Layne’s on co-ed. All the smaller girls are on co-ed, but I’m taller, so I have to be on all-girl.”
Like all college athletes, Held remains serious about keeping up with her possible major in finance despite her commitment to cheering.
“I think this year has taught me a lot, because I was always really busy all the time, going to practice. College cheer shouldn’t take up that much time; we only practice 3 or 4 times a week, which is way different than my normal 6. I’m just going to make sure I don’t goof around a lot, and study.”
Cheering at the University of Texas in a high honor for any cheerleader, but has a special place in Held’s heart.
“Getting to be involved in UT and getting to cheer at the football games is something I’m really looking forward to,” she said.