It’s four hours before kickoff, and the TCU football team isn’t the only group preparing for another game day at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
The TCU Cheer team arrives early to walk through and warm up all of their game elements, but even before that, the team works to perfect cheers and cadences and achieve new skills throughout the week.
“Our practices are held weekly Tuesday and Thursday night for 2.5 hours,” Bailey Alexander, a senior nursing major said. “We typically run through our pre-game routine, work on sideline stunts plus material, and condition our tumbling. We are able to not practice as much during the week, because during the summer we come in for an entire month before school begins and practice 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.”
The rest of the week includes two mandatory workouts at the TCU recreation center, workouts planned by the team’s trainer and done on the cheerleaders’ own time.
“I typically like to space out my week with workouts Monday and Wednesday, and practice Tuesday and Thursday,” Alexander said. “It can be pretty busy, but it is all about time management!”
Two and a half hours before game time, fans can watch the cheer team participate in the Frog Walk, a spirit tradition where the cheer team, Showgirls and band precede the football team into the stadium.
From there, it’s go-time. Last-minute makeup and hair touches occur in the locker room, and then the team goes down to the field for one last round of warm-ups.
With 20 minutes on the clock, the cheerleaders begin their pregame routine, getting everyone in the crowd excited for the game ahead. Part of this includes the team leading the fans in a pregame “Go Frogs” chant, alternating between the east and west sides of the stadium.
During the game, the team will perform to various songs during timeouts and other breaks in play. Fans will see them throw skills like basket catches and standing back tucks during these performances.
Behind all of this preparation is head coach Elizabeth Peterson. The Fort Worth native and LSU alumna heard about the job opening from a friend and took the opportunity.
Never did she think in her time of coaching that she would have to deal with a pandemic and the challenges it brings.
“Despite many challenges and changes last year, the team pushed through with positive attitudes focused on what we were able to do,” Peterson said. “The team is very grateful to be back on the sidelines this year doing what they love at full capacity!”
The shared passion for cheerleading is a core aspect of the TCU cheer team and one that Peterson values as one of her favorite things about coaching.
“Having an opportunity to influence and be influenced myself by some of Fort Worth’s finest young adults and future world changes is a great honor, and I get to do it through our shared passion – cheerleading,” Peterson said.
The TCU Cheer team not only cheers at TCU football games but also at other TCU Athletic events like volleyball and basketball games. Although they don’t compete in national competitions, the team does facilitate pep rallies and special appearances in the Fort Worth area like community service activities and alumni and civic events.
Tryouts for the cheer team are held in April, and the team will meet a few weeks before school starts to begin training. To try out, students must be accepted to TCU and enrolled in 12 or more credit hours.
During tryouts, the coaches not only look for talent but also leadership qualities, confidence, work ethic, willingness to try new things and more. Candidates must complete a physical before tryouts and also possess proper physical fitness and training to complete the required skills safely.
Each year, there are not a set number of available spots, so the cut off is determined by the judges’ and squad’s discretion. The entirely female team typically ranges from 16 to 22 members, and the coed team typically ranges from five to 10 couples.
“The adrenaline running through your body as the cheerleaders lead the stadium is like no other!” Alexander said. “Standing on the field and staring up into the crowd is such a surreal moment that never gets old. It is such an honor to represent the frogs doing something that I love.”