SJSU Babe Of The Month- Shannon Birt

Meet Shannon Birt from last years Spartan Spirit Squad! Besides having the looks of a beauty, Shannon has some insight on the transition from football cheering to basketball dancing at SJSU.

Cheerleaders get a bad rap? Few consider it a true sport. San Jose State's Shannon Birt , a member of the SJSU Spirit Squad, hopes to change those opinions. She talks about the transition from cheering for football to dancing for basketball.

Shannon states that the cheerleading season usually begins in April, rather than at the beginning of the football season, as most would believe. A typical cheer season is generally about nine to 10 months long she states.

Question: Tell us how the cheerleading process works?

Shannon: Cheer auditions are in April. This is a three-day process, with one preliminary cut before the final team is announced. Then there is a general information orientation, to get to know your squad mates in May. Summer practices begin in the end of June.

Between orientation and the first practice we are expected to condition ourselves so that by the time practices begin we are already in decent physical condition. Summer practices consist of intense training and summer cheer camp.

Once games begin we continue with regular practice, perform at both football and basketball games and our season ends when basketball is over, which is usually in March. Then in April it starts all over again.

Question: What do you like the best about cheer camp?

Shannon: Summer camp is really the aspect of cheerleading that I will be focusing on this year. This year the SJSU Spirit Squad attended an NCA (National Cheer Association) Cheer/Dance camp at UC Santa Barbara in mid-August.

Cheer camps are about three to four days long and their size really vary. The one we attended was small as far as the number of cheerleaders in attendance, but our squad really liked the fact that there were not as many others there because we received more one-on-one coaching from the NCA Staff.

Question: What is the main goal of cheer camp?

Shannon: The purpose and goal of cheer camp is to improve upon our skills and technique while at the same time working on our team unity. Many squads attend camp for the competition aspect of it, rather than for the reasons I've stated. Our squad strictly decided that all competition aspects were secondary to our primary goals.

With that in mind our squad did compete in all areas of competition, but more for team confidence and to practice our newfound skills. We went home with first place trophies in the top two competition areas at camp. We received Best All-Around and a plethora of individual certificates and medals.

Question: How hard is cheer camp on you?

Shannon: Camp is a grueling and very physically demanding four days. We start at about 8 a.m. and continue through the usually very hot day until about 7 p.m. (sometimes even as late as 10 p.m.).

The skills we acquire at camp are cheers, dances, partner stunts (co-ed), all girl stunts, pyramids, and technique in all areas, and more abstract things like team unity, trust and confidence in performance.

Question: What is the competition like at camp?

Shannon: Within the competition at camp you are not only competing with yourself (squad evaluations), you compete against other squads. The biggest honor at camp is to receive a bid (an invitation) to NCA College Nationals in Las Vegas in March.

Our squad was one of the few squads that received a bid at camp. All in all, cheer camp is a long, tiring, fun, exciting four days. Our squad walked away from camp with a ton of new material, and a confidence like I've never seen before.

So far this year our squad has reached new heights that I do not believe would have been possible without having attended camp. (CC:AS)

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