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Bliss Life

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Nevada Cheer: Making the Team

Apr 04, 2019 02:02PM ● By Shannon Bonetti

Alana Betlach traveled all the way from Riverside, California to meet the ladies who could soon be her new teammates, “I’m moving here in the fall, and I really want to make the team.” The 20-year-old transfer student is attending the University of Nevada’s cheer clinic, testing her technique, style, and overall skills. “I’m having so much fun. It’s hard work, but I’m learning a lot,” said Alana. 

The clinics are designed specifically for hopefuls like herself planning to try out for the 2019 -2020 Wolf Pack cheer team. “We hold about 4-8 clinics a year right before tryouts. They can come see our style and decide if our program is right for them,” said head coach Kim Anastassatos. “We aren’t necessarily looking for the most talented, we’re looking for people who can fit into Nevada cheer.” For Alana, making the team would be a dream come true. “I’ve been following Nevada cheer since I was in high school. I think they’re absolutely amazing, plus I’m a huge game day cheerleader, so I think this would be a perfect fit for me.” 

It's a grueling process to make it as a Wolf Pack cheerleader, and the competition is fierce. “We usually have about 150 people try out and, ultimately, we accept about 60 total. That includes guys, girls, and mascots,” said Kim. “Everyone wants to be a Nevada cheerleader these days, we try to create a positive atmosphere where they all can thrive, but the cuts really come down to the nitty gritty, it’s very tough.” 

Tryouts held in May consist of three days of strenuous workouts, new choreography, and intense physical conditioning. “We’re watching their every move, things like arm placements, body posture, how they hold their head, all of that,” said Kim. The coaches also look for heart and passion, candidates who have the desire to make a difference not just on the field, but in the community as well. “They need to believe with their whole heart that this what they want to do. It really becomes who they are.” 

First year cheerleader Cameron Coffey knows from experience what it’s like to make the team, as well as the responsibilities that come with it. “It’s all very exciting, especially at the beginning. The fans are happy to see you, they want to take your picture and everything, but there’s more to it. It’s about representing Nevada and that’s a very special feeling.” It’s a special feeling she’s working hard to protect as every returning cheerleader is required to re-audition each year. “It’s good for the girls,” said Kim. “They realize there’s always someone younger, someone better, someone who wants their spot.” For them, there’s a lot at stake. “When clinics roll around you start thinking ok, I need to prove my spot and do the best I can. It definitely puts a little bit of a fire under your feet,” said Cameron. 

Every year is a new chapter for the Nevada cheer team as they prepare to shine like never before. “They’ll look back on these times one day,” said Kim. “Being on the team is really a lifelong commitment.  We like to say, it was your team when you attended the University and it’ll always be your team. These are your people… forever.”