Cheerleading: lives of spirit

The Butler cheerleaders are at every basketball game, from the opening tipoff to the final buzzer. They are at every football game from kickoff until the teams files into the tunnel at the end of the game.

They were there in Houston and Indianapolis when the men’s basketball team was playing for a national title.

The cheerleaders are an integral part of the athletics program at Butler.

“I love being a part of the university,” senior  cheerleader Mark Abarca said. “The cheerleaders are part of the Butler brand, and being in that spotlight is always really exciting.”

While the cheerleading team is usually seen down on the field or court cheering, the group does much more.

“There is so much to this squad,” senior cheerleader Hannah Ucchino said. “We are more than the peppy faces on the sidelines every game.”

The team cheers during most volleyball matches, the men’s and women’s basketball games and football contests.

“I love, during the basketball games, watching all the alumni and seeing how excited they get when we go out and do the war song, or something happens on the court,” Ucchino said.

The team also cheers during Welcome Week events, Spirit Week events and alumni association events.

“On top of volunteering, all of the cheerleaders are very involved with different activities on campus as well as their studies, ” Ucchino said. “We are always there to help each other out. We love Butler, and we love what we do.”

The team spends time making appearances around the Indianapolis community, helping with local high school cheering squads, participating in charity walks and interacting with alumni.

All of this time is on a volunteer basis.

“I still think that there are people that are out there that think the kids get scholarships and (get) paid,” spirit coordinator Jamie Troyer said. “It’s strictly volunteer.

“They get a little bit, but the time they are putting in is pretty much volunteer.”

Troyer said the team typically consists of 23 to 28 cheerleaders, with eight to 10 males and 14 to 18 females. This year, the team has 28 members.

The team practices twice a week for two to three hours during the fall semester. During the spring semester, practice drops to about two hours.

Practices consist of conditioning, stunts, pyramids, and individual practice with stunt groups or partners.

Some Butler cheerleaders have gone on to work for professional teams in Indianapolis. A few work for  a new Indiana Pacers spirit group, and others are flag runners for the Indianapolis Colts.

Troyer said several of her former cheerleaders have also gone on to coach at the high-school level.

Troyer said that her favorite part of it all is the tradition and the excitement for sports.

“Something about Butler, the cheerleaders really love their school, and they love cheerleading for Butler” Troyer said. “It’s just the pride that the students take in being a cheerleader and supporting their school.”

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