Win or Lose They Continue to Cheer

Before, during and after each Bronco football, men's and women's basketball game these Broncos continue to work as a team. Through conditioning and practice they continue to find ways to cheer on the Broncos. Win or Lose they will always be there. The Broncos cheerleading team is the only co-ed team in Western Michigan University's Athletics Department.

"I think it takes a big work ethic because we have to come in and do weight training twice a week for an hour and we have a new trainer this year that works us pretty hard so, a pretty good amount of effort," said senior captain Aubrey Sharp. Being one of the guys on the team and one of only two males on the team that can do back flips Jacob Siler added, "Most of the guys work out more. Most of the guys work out every day. Come in at least an hour every day just to lift weights and stay in shape."

These Broncos love what they do. You see them at every game cheering on the Broncos and leading the students and the fans with their cheers, formations and back flips. Very rarely do you see this group of Broncos without a smile on their faces.

One would wonder how a guy would become a cheerleader; sometimes it's out of necessity. Jacob was originally into boy's gymnastics but once he was in high school he decided to become a cheerleader in his sophomore year. "My freshman year (at Bronson) was Dave's senior year and that's the first year he did cheerleading. Then I did it all three years and I was the only guy cheerleader, my sophomore through senior year," he said. Jacob went on to say, "It's really different. Guys as cheerleaders are starting to get a lot bigger now. I feel like I set an example like you can do it guys can go out and cheerlead in high school like a small, small school. My school has like a hundred people in each class just really tiny it's really strange for a guy cheerleader to be on the team than a school that has more."

Cheerleading at Western Michigan University has become an extension of the teams on the football field and on the basketball court. At football games the cheerleaders love cheering to their peers in the stands, "There are not a lot of students that always come to basketball games so it's more fun to cheer to a group of your peers like at the football games," Aubrey said. She also told us, "I actually really like basketball but I have to say it's kind of a tie between basketball and football because football there is a lot more events going on around it at least at the beginning of the game before everyone seems to leave (she says sarcastically). There are a lot more students and everything to cheer to."

Her co-captain senior Lauren Scheill in her told us she likes basketball, "because I like the smaller environment." Both Aubrey and Lauren talked about the women's basketball team's MAC Championship in Cleveland being their favorite road trip as a Bronco. "I have to say Cleveland last year when we won the MAC." Aubrey continued, "I think that was a lot of fun and the girl's basketball team really involved us and treated us like we were a part of it and that was really neat for us." Lauren followed her up by adding, "I would have to say that and going to California after they won the MAC Championship."

One of the challenges the cheer team faces is its youth. Most of the guys on the team are either freshmen or sophomores so they are still developing the strength to be able to hold the ladies up in the air. Watching on the sideline one can see how difficult it could be to hold the ladies up in a pyramid formation or something similar. "The guys have to learn a lot of grips on how to hold the feet so the girls are steady up there. They are not always comfortable in getting your hands flat and bending your hands and your wrists in positions they haven't done before," Head Coach Tracy Lentz told Broncos Illustrated. "Most of them come from they were wrestlers in high school, football players, tennis players and soccer players. So when they come into a college atmosphere this is completely new they've never done anything like this before and it also using a lot I think using a lot of different muscle groups need to be built up that they never had the need to be built up before."

With the hard work they do, the fun they have and the enjoyment they get from leading the fans in cheering on the Broncos, the next time you have the opportunity thank them for their efforts. Thank them for what they do because even though fans go to the games to cheer the teams on the field and on the court they are a part of the team that is playing the games.

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