By Brielle Braxton-Young; The Whetstone

Seventeen years ago, I tried out for cheerleading and I got cut.

I went back the next year, and I made it because of my dedication to the sport. I worked hard during the off season, and came back stronger and better.

Ever since, I have been a cheerleader and for the last three years, I have been a Wesley College cheerleader.

While some people think cheerleading is just about yelling, shaking pompoms and wearing short skirts, it’s not. It’s a lifestyle that takes hard work and dedication.

The Wesley cheer program has led me to have lifelong friendships with my teammates and helped me step out of my comfort zone.

I joined the team my sophomore year, and was welcomed with open arms. I was glad to be back in my “happy place.” I was so used to football cheer that I never pictured myself cheering for basketball, but I tried it. I didn’t know if I would like it or not but it was one of the best experiences and decisions I had ever made.

No matter the team, no matter my age, I was always told one thing — “You have a powerful voice, use it.”

So I did.

I remember the commands: High V, Low V, T, Broken T, Touchdown. I hit each motion. I remember that these are the most important things in cheerleading.

Cheerleading 101: LOCK THOSE ARMS

There are many different levels of cheer, you have recreation cheer, Pop Warner cheer, school cheer, independent cheer, and all-star cheer.

I have done them all.

In my time being on the cheer team at Wesley, I have cheered for 29 games (football and basketball). I have spent over $200 of my own money. I have danced at 15 events.

But I also have practiced 135 days, I have been injured four times – and I have been disrespected so many times I lost track.

No one understands what we go through outside of what is seen.

“We get no respect in here” may be a part of a cheer but we get no respect from our own school.

I get it. Nobody takes us seriously because we aren’t considered a sport at a D3 college.

“Is cheerleading even a sport?” — Yes.

“Y’all performing again?” — We we’re asked to.

“What’s that thing called when you put the girl in the air?” — A stunt.

“Why is your dance so short?” — There’s about twelve 8 counts.

“What’s an 8 count?” — Seriously?

“Can you do that running thing?” — It’s a back-handspring.

This isn’t it all but this is why I say, we get no respect in here.

Our own fellow Wolverines, have asked these same questions listed above.

Whatever we need, Coach Robin makes sure it is supplied.

Bows, check. Gloves, check. Head warmers, check. Rain jackets, check. Music, check.

Run-throughs, check. Encouraging words, check. Advice, check. Unconditional support, check.

All out of her pocket. All during her time. All while off campus.

We even have to carpool to practice because there’s nowhere for us to practice on campus.

This is why I say, we get no respect in here.

So many people want to criticize us or talk behind our back, but nobody has ever asked, is there anything we need. But no matter what we have each other and Coach Robin.

Maybe after reading this everyone understands better what it means to be a cheerleader but a Wesley cheerleader. That is all that I ask.

So next time you hear about Wesley cheer, have some respect for our program.