cheerleaders on campus

How Can High School Cheerleaders Pursue Professional Careers?

A high school student on the cusp of entering college has a lot of pressure put on them to find a career they can focus on. Academic aptitude can often point the way to what a student can do after graduating high school, but you are more likely to discover which career you want to pursue through your extracurricular activities.

Maybe you are active in student government, which can pave the way into politics. Or you may be in your high school football team which can be your ticket into college football or even other branches of the NCAA. Or you maybe one of the hundreds of thousands of high school cheerleaders.

Learn why people get into cheerleading, how you can make a living with your cheerleading costume and what common challenges you can expect by becoming a professional cheerleader.

Why Do People Become Cheerleaders?

pro cheerleading group
There are tens of thousands of high school cheerleaders in the US

A recent survey revealed that there are over 160,000 female and almost 4,000 male high school cheerleaders in the United States. Many teenagers go to cheerleading camp during the summer and cherish the memories they make while performing with their pompoms. Cheerleading has become an essential part of the American high school experience, immortalized by many cheerleading movies like the critically acclaimed “Bring it On” and “But I’m a Cheerleader.”

Here are some reasons teenagers love cheering for their sports teams.

  • Friendship

Like many groups, cheerleaders are often tightly knit and form close bonds with one another. This kind of friendship is often crucial in enhancing the coordination and cooperation necessary to pull off the stunts and acrobatics necessary for cheerleading. Many teenagers who are interested in the sport can be ostracized, especially if they are male and joining the high school cheerleading team offers plenty of camaraderie.

  • Athleticism

Many people often ask “is cheerleading a sport?” If these people ever saw the intense practice sessions and routines your average high school cheerleader has to put up with and they’ll understand the immense athleticism involved in this activity. Many teens may be drawn to cheerleading as a form of exercise that’s more fun than your standard gym class fare.

  • Fun

Cheerleading, like any type of extracurricular activity, can be fun to some people and what’s not to like? The activity often involves rousing songs, catchy chanting, challenging but thrilling stuns and lots of time with a group of friends. There are also different entertaining aspects to it such as cheerleading camp, public performances and of course the joy of being part of a recognized team.

  • Support

Finally, some people join cheerleading teams because they want to support their high school sports teams. Although the activity has grown a lot from simply being morale support for athletes, they still provide much of the liveliness and fun in sporting events. You or someone you know may have signed up to be high school cheerleaders because you want to encourage your school’s athletes.

How Can High School Cheerleaders Get Professional?

cheerleaders practicing
Cheerleading camp and continual practice is essential in becoming professional.

Although television and cheerleading movies sometimes convey the hard work that goes into becoming a cheerleader, some people might still be under the impression that its easy. wWhether cheerleading is a sport, it is undoubtedly a very taxing activity. Making it big after becoming a high school cheerleader requires a lot of practice, especially through your college years.

Below are some tips on how you can ensure you can have a career with your cheerleading costume.

  • Keep Practicing

Like with any sport or physical activity, you will need to practice constantly if you want any hope of making it to the big leagues. If you had a strict practice regimen when you were in high school, you would do well to retain it while you are in college. You will have to make some changes to it, especially if you have to accommodate academics and your personal life but continuing to practice will make it more likely that you are selected from auditions.

  • Join College Teams

There are all sorts of university clubs you may want to join, but if you are truly serious about not just becoming a high school cheerleader but going professional, you must join the college team. College cheerleading team are often tied to the university’s other sports team rather than a separate program. You will have to bring your best routines and practice will be crucial in getting a spot in these teams. If you don’t make it into the team, don’t worry as you can always try out next semester.

  • Stay in Shape

Becoming a cheerleader, whether you are male or female, requires a lot of athleticism and that means you need to be in shape. Different roles in a cheer squad means there are different requirements.

For example, if your usual role is to be at the top of the pyramid and perform complex stunts, you will need to stay lithe and lean. But if your role is to hurl your teammates into the air and provide stability while others perform stunts, you will need to build your strength and muscles. Keep your role in mind when exercising to stay in shape.

  • Audition for Local Squads

If your university doesn’t have a cheerleading team or if you aren’t eligible to become one of their members, you can always scope out the local squads. Cheerleading camp and online forums or groups are all great sources of information on where there are local squads for you to join. These organizations sometimes provide cheerleading for athletic activities other than college sports or professional games.

For example, local firefighter stations may have sporting events that require cheerleading. Apply for these teams as a way to keep your hand in the scene and your head in the game.

  • Get a Coach

Finally, if you are really serious about pursuing a career as a cheerleader, you must get a coach. Their job is to keep track of your training and ensure you are on top of your game. They can help you personalize your audition routines and ensure you are properly updated on the newest cheerleading stunts. These coaches tend to have a lot of clients, so be careful that you select one who can provide you with enough focus and have a lot of connections you can use to build your network.

What are Common Challenges of Cheerleading?

cheerleader preparing to jump
Becoming a professional cheerleader has a lot of risks.

Donning a cheerleading costume can be very soothing, but there are a lot of challenges associated with professional cheerleading.

Here are just a few of the most common barriers to pursuing a career as a cheerleader.

  • Costs

There are plenty of costs when you are training to become a professional athlete. Aside from the costs of hiring a coach to keep you on track, you will also need a cheerleading costume, there are assorted traveling costs to get to auditions and there may even be medical bills.

  • Injuries

Cheerleading can be very dangerous, as with all types of sports. Some experts claim that approximately 30,000 cheerleaders get severely injured every year. Common types of injuries faced by college and high school cheerleaders include ankle injuries from bad falls, knee injuries from stunts and concussions from accidents. These can either become a hefty medical bill or even an end to your cheerleading dreams.

  • Low Salary

One of the most egregious aspects of becoming a professional cheerleader is realizing how low the salary can be if you are new to the scene. If you have less than 2 years of experience after becoming a high school cheerleader, you can expect earn approximately $35,000. You probably won’t make anything close to $100,000 a year unless you have more than 5 years of experience . . . which presents a different problem.

  • Aging Out

The intense athletics and stunts involved in cheerleading means that you are expected to age out quite quickly. The average age for becoming a cheerleader is 25 and the cheerleaders in their early 40s are quite rare and expected to retire soon. This means that you will need to be aggressive and determine to break out into the professional seen early in your career.

  • Sexual Harassment

Finally, there are rampant cases of sexual harassment against cheerleaders. Although there have been many initiatives and movements to protect these performers and athletes from these despicable activities, there is always the chance that you may encounter it during your climb to a professional career.

The journey from high school cheerleader to performing at the Super Bowl can be long and difficult. But with enough practice, drive and determination, you can definitely make a career in your cheerleading costume.

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