Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders
Touchstone, Hardcover, 9781416535966, 384pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2008
Think cheerleading is just pom-poms, "gimme an 'R,'" and pleated skirts? Not anymore. Take an exhilarating trip through the rough-and-tumble world of competitive college cheerleading....
College cheerleaders are extreme athletes who fly thirty feet in the air, build pyramids in which a single slip can send ten people crashing to the ground, and compete in National Championships that are won by hundredths of a point. Cheer! is a year-long odyssey into their universe, following three squads from tryouts to Nationals.
Meet the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack cheerleaders from Nacogdoches, Texas, whoseem destined to win their fifth National Championship in a row -- until they are shaken by the departure of their longtime coach. Fall in love with the Southern University Jaguars from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an African-American team hoping to raise the $17,000 needed to travel to Nationals and transform their near win several years ago into a Cinderella victory. Root for the University of Memphis All-Girl cheerleaders from Tennessee -- a team that continually struggles for the same respect Coed teams get -- when their quest for a national title is threatened by injuries and dropouts.
Along the way, meet unforgettable characters like Sierra, a cheerleading prodigy who has never lost a competition; Doug, who is in his eighth year as a college cheerleader; and Casi, one of the few female bases who can lift anothercheerleader on her own. These are people who risk horrifying injuries on a daily basis, battle demons like eating disorders and steroid use, and form intense bonds.
In the immersive tradition of Friday Night Lights, Cheer! is a captivating, all-access journey into a deeply absorbing world.
Kate Torgovnick is a former associate writer/editor at Jane magazine. She writes about extreme athletes for The New York Times and her articles have also appeared in Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune, and The Daily News (New York). She grew up in Durham, North Carolina, and now lives in New York City.