Stand up and cheer will be a season long series featuring your MSU Coed Cheerleader squad. I will feature different members of the squad each week so that you get to know the young people who work so hard to represent you and our school at a variety of events besides football and basketball games. These students are part of our family so we should know them, talk to them and support them. Believe me all of these kids bleed MAROON through and through.
Cheerleaders are athletes, they go through a pressure packed tryout process that no other athletic program even thinks about doing. They often have been cheering as long as any football player has played football and have been part of competitive cheer programs or an academy since they were 10 years old. Many of our cheerleaders come from around our country as you will see this year. They excelled at their Cheer Academies which opened the door to being accepted to cheer at State. They workout all year individually then come together for summer camp if they were chosen to help lead your university. When school starts, they practice or perform every day or night. They put in as many hours of preparation perfecting what they do just as the “real sports” do. “Cheerleading accounts for the highest rate of catastrophic injuries in all sports”(1). It is never easy and often dangerous but they each love their sport!
Head Coach Melissa Nichols does a magnificent and tireless job in leading your Spirit Program Groups. She leads and coordinates four segments of the Spirit Program (Coed Cheer, All Girl, Pom Pom and Mascots) which accounts for 85 college students. Think about that...85 five young lives she is caring about and molding each year. When I talked to Coach Nichols she explained to me why she has been committed to this program for 10 years on her second round at Mississippi State.
Coach Nichols is from Clinton, MS and graduated from Clinton High School. After graduating she danced in college and worked for Universal Cheerleaders Association teaching and leading camps for developing cheerleaders. After graduating college she worked for the apparel side of U.C.A. as a Sales Rep for Varsity Spirit Fashions. Her first coaching job was at Miss. State in 1999. She left for a short time before returning to her love, Miss. State in 2006.
“I think the reason that I continue to do this job is the difference we can make in a young person’s life. Teaching these young ladies and men life skills such as working together for a common cause, time management, commitment to something that matters, dedication to each other and helping them to realize the role models they can and need to be for others especially younger children. My kids are students first, here to get an education, a degree they can use as adults. They are just blessed that they “GET TO” cheer and dance for Mississippi State University. I guess the biggest reward for me is to see them graduate with that degree they have worked for and see them continue to be successful in all aspects of their life.”
Our cheerleaders care so much about what they do for our school. They take deep pride in their craft and academics while receiving very little in return, $1,000/ semester. WE need to encourage them, follow them, cheer with them and care about them. Coach Nichols and all the young people you will come to know through this series deserve your respect and involvement as they try to lead us to “STAND UP AND CHEER” our beloved DAWGS to another successful season.
Next Thursday you “Get To” meet an “inseparable” couple before our first home game. See you next week.
(1) http://www.momstream.com/health-safety/cheerleading-high-rates-of-Catastrophic-Injuries and Concussions