UMSL Tritons cheerleaders root on the home team at the annual "Pack the Stands" men's and women's basketball doubleheader in February. The cheerleading squad is looking for new members for next season. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Do these terms sound familiar: triple–toe-touch, herkie, front hurdler? How about basket toss?

If you’re a cheerleader, then you’ve learned these standard moves. If you’re not a cheerleader, but are interested in learning more, the University of Missouri–St. Louis is looking for candidates for next year’s cheerleading squad.

“Over the next two weeks, we will be recruiting for our 2012-2013 cheerleaders,” said Sandra Ray, coach of the UMSL Tritons cheerleaders and mascot and administrative assistant in the Department of Athletics. “If someone is interested in becoming a Tritons cheerleader, may have the skills that could complement cheerleading, or has ever thought about becoming a cheerleader, they should come to the information session from 5 to 7 p.m. April 12 in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center.”

Both women and men are encouraged to attend the information session and try out for the cheerleading team. An all-day clinic and tryouts will be held April 21 and 22. Ideally, Ray said her cheerleading team next season would have five or six men and 10 women. This year’s team had 13 members, three of them men.

Ray said that cheerleading is a sport and “you have every right to call yourself an athlete if you’re a cheerleader.” She emphasized that candidates must be in excellent health, and have the strength, stamina and ability to perform the complex jumps and moves of today’s cheerleader. Men need not have previous cheerleader training, but must have sufficient upper body strength to hold and toss the female cheerleaders. But physical attributes are only a part of what it takes to be a cheerleader, she added.

“Character and attitude count for a lot,” she said. “Our cheerleaders go out into the community and represent the university. They need to have good grades, excellent verbal skills and be good citizens. Cheerleaders have to have a positive attitude under pressure and keep smiling.”

And, she added, scholarships are available.

Cheerleading clinics will start at 6 a.m. and run to 3 p.m. April 21 aided by representatives from the National Cheerleading Association and a former Rams cheerleader. Candidates will be taught and evaluated on a cheer, a dance routine and stunts. Tumbling skills are not required, but are definitely a bonus, Ray said. On April 22 candidates will perform for a panel of judges.

After many years without official cheerleaders, Lori Flanagan Director of Athletics formed a team to add that missing link in the fall of 2009, according to Ray.

“Lori wanted to engage the student body in athletics and you need cheerleaders to do that,” Ray said.

She added that tryouts also will be held for Louie, the Tritons mascot, but not until August.


Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel