UNF as an NFL Cheerleader

Written By: Kayla H.

Imagine smiling up at a stadium of 75,000 screaming fans that are all staring back at you. Imagine watching an NFL game from the field, so close to the action sometimes you have to run to avoid being part of a tackle. Now imagine dancing and cheering on national television at the age of 18 for the biggest sports market in the country. Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, or maybe even a Monday night? This is an experience only a few students at the campus of University of North Florida can say they have had. Do not be fooled though, we are and have been in your classes. Jaguar Cheerleaders aren’t as recognizable off the field as you might think.

Fall semester has a very different meaning for every college student. For me, fall semester is the longest, most tiring and hectic time of the year. I have been a Jaguar Cheerleader since I was 18 years old. We are a team of 32 women that include students, teachers, nurses, business women, and mothers. We practice a minimum of 12 hours a week along with charity appearances and events and of course game day. Outside of that our lives are pretty normal. I have a full time job as well as go to school at UNF full time. You could say that things get pretty crazy!

I am double majoring in Public Relations and Marketing, and in my junior year. I am also finishing my third year with the Jaguars. I actually began cheering before I graduated high school, so cheering for the Jaguars came before college. It is very beneficial being able to work for such a huge organization for a PR and Marketing student. I have been able to witness and break down some tremendous changes in the Jaguars organization over the last few years, and seen how important the PR department is to the company.

Although beneficial, being a Jaguar Cheerleader while going to school full time can have a few disadvantages. With all the time you are dedicating to the team and the organization, it can be very hard to find time to concentrate on your school work. In the moment it can be very difficult to put things in perspective. Let’s say the team is scheduled two Monday night games this season and the days that the games are scheduled you also have midterms and finals. The right thing to do in the long run is to say that you will not go to the games so that you can focus on your finals and take them at the same time as your classmates, but is this really what happens?

I was in this situation this past fall semester. We had a Monday night game in October and one in December. Of course Monday night games are the biggest games during the regular season and I would do anything to make sure I would be on the field for it. So I asked my teachers if I could take it another time, they were understanding and agreed. The only issue is, while spending so much time preparing for the Monday night game and being so distracted with the hype of what is to come, when was I studying? I wasn’t.

If you want to do something bad enough you will make it work, and that’s what I did. I always make sure my grades stay up no matter how difficult it may be. I love cheering for the Jaguars and would not have it any other way!

Tryouts for the team are in March. If you would like to tryout or just want to check out the team you can go to http://www.jaguars.com/cheerleaders/index.html for more information.

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