by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
They are the final members of the team, the sideline motivators, they are the Windsor Lancer cheerleaders.
While varsity athletes practice dribbling, jump shots or serves, they work on cadences and their ability to pump up the crowd.
It’s an underrated position with hours of practice and sacrifice to be had before even thinking of cheering on the sidelines and just like the athletes they cheer on, they are a team above all else.
Ashlee Amato is a student coach of the Lancers and has been involved in cheer teams for eight years through high school and the university team. Amato said through coaching the sport she has realized just how important teamwork in cheerleading is.
“If your whole team is not there then stunts won’t work and you cannot practice a routine,” said Amato. “In my experience a team that is close to each other makes your team stronger.”
Amato also said the experience has taught her no matter what, your team will always be there for you.
“Motivating my girls to compete this year was amazing just being able to see their faces and excitement when they hit the floor made me realize that no matter what they will always be a team,” said Amato. “Also watching them grow as individuals and a team makes hopes that next years team will be great.”
One of those individuals is Kristen Calibaba, who recently auditioned for the Toronto Argonauts cheer team of the Canadian Football League. Calibaba said the Lancer cheerleaders are a group of talented wonderful girls who truly love cheerleading.
“It is not like the cheerleading teams you see in the movies,” said Calibaba. “We trained hard and had practices three times a week, on top of football and basketball games, jobs and school work . We would practice in the morning before school and then I would sometimes have six hours of class afterwards.”
In November of last year the Lancers travelled to nationals where teams for universities and colleges in Canada came to compete. Calibaba said the University of Windsor hadn’t competed in years, which she said was nice but this was a lot of pressure on the team to push their limits.
“Practices were intense and could sometimes be filled with emotion,” said Calibaba. “You have to be a strong person inside and out to be part of the team. However all the girls were there for each other no matter what.”
Calibaba said at times she would be overwhelmed with school and other projects and said when she felt frustrated, her teammates were always there to push and support her.
“I learned hard work and dedication from being on the Lancer Cheer squad that I used in my Argos audition,” said Calibab. “No matter what you have to keep smiling.”
Calibaba said she made it through the initial audition and now will have an interview Mar 23 . If Calibaba makes it past that round she will advance to the final auditions Mar. 29.
“I love being on the side lines cheering on football players, I really got into the game when I was with the Lancers and hopefully will get the do the same with the Argos,” said Calibaba. “I honestly feel that cheerleading is also about getting to know and interacting with the fans. We are there to get the crowd going and excited about the game.”
Calibaba said a key to being part of a cheer team was knowing what things she could live without. She said prioritizing all of her homework allowed her to have more time for cheer and the other things she does, including dance and acting. Now living in Toronto, Calibaba said enjoying the little things makes all of her hard work worth it.