With football season rapidly approaching, the university’s cheerleading tryouts focused on adding more men to the co-ed squad and recruiting higher skilled individuals to rival the big-name cheer programs of the Big 12 Conference, TCU Cheer coach Robin Phillips said.
TCU Cheer welcomed 32 students to its squad and increased the number of men from two to five last Saturday after a closed two-day try out, she said.
Phillips said most of the squads in the Big 12 had more men and had a high degree of difficulty in their tricks, which was why the new squad’s dynamic was an important step toward bringing TCU cheerleading to the Big 12 level.
“We rocked the Mountain West Conference last year, and joining the Big 12 is the perfect next step for us,” Phillips said. “We need a new challenge.”
The challenges presented by the Big 12 transition included learning to entertain in larger stadiums with bigger crowds, she said.
One potentially challenging stadium was University of Texas’s Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. It is the sixth largest stadium in the country, and had one of the highest average football game attendance records, according to TexasSports.com.
Not only do many Big 12 stadiums hold more people, but many also had a larger and louder student section because its total enrollment numbers exceed TCU’s 10,000-student enrollment ceiling for fall 2012. Phillips said TCU Cheer would be ready to tackle that challenge after dedicating the summer to learning new routines and skills aimed to get students spirited and loud.
Kristin Faciane, a freshman psychology major, said the squad would be more than prepared to handle the Big 12 because the squad was more focused on perfecting its game day performance than it was in the past. She said the squad did not participate in competitions anymore, which allowed more time and energy spent focusing on TCU game days.
This time last year, the university’s athletic regulations enforced a ban on basket tosses and reinforced the cheerleading squad’s designation as a “game day only” squad. Being a game day squad removed them from competing in the National Cheerleaders Association national competition starting last fall.
Phillips said with the move to the Big 12, TCU joined Baylor as the only Big 12 cheer programs that did not regularly compete in nationals. But she did not expect the policy to negatively impact its reputation among the other Big 12 cheer programs.
Cheer captain Sarah Stallard said the squad remained positive about the program changes and took the time previously spent practicing to improve the squad’s image
Phillips said getting the cheerleaders more involved on campus was crucial for their own school spirit. It allowed them to understand the spirit and tradition of being a Horned Frog, which they planned to bring the Big 12.
“For me, the Big 12 is all about spirit in its traditions, and we know we can bring the Big 12 tradition and spirit to TCU,” Phillips said.