Buoyed from their recent retaining of the Future Cheer University Nationals crown, DSU’s cheerleaders are looking forward to replicating that achievement at Varsity.
But it’s a challenge that is not lost on members of the squad.
To maintain the high standards that they’ve set themselves, the team have been working extra hard in training and their efforts at the National Championships shows that the hard work is worth is, said chair Ebby Offiah.
“Our training has become more intense as we get to competition; we work a lot harder for fitness reasons.
“We’re running around 24/7 on the mat, so you really need to increase that intensity so that we’re able to keep up.
“It’s been hard work, but it has been fun and has paid off at the same time.”
Some of the cheerleading squad with Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard at the Varsity launch.
Despite their numerous successes over recent years – including European Championship wins for both their all-girl and co-ed squads – Ebby promised that they are not taking anything for granted, though conceded that winning would be a great way to end university for many of those involved.
“To win again would be amazing. It would just end the year well. For a lot of us this is our final year so that last Varsity for us, and to win it would be an amazing feeling,” she said.
“We are confident, but at the same time we are going to work as hard as we would have even if we weren’t.”
One thing that Ebby, a third year Biomedical Science student, is particularly looking forward to this year is an element of cheer Varsity that has been introduced for the first time.
“At Varsity, against the Leicester Panthers, we have to enter the same level that they enter, and they compete with a level 2 squad, so we’re only allowed to enter our level 2 squad, which is our co-ed team,” she explained.
“But to involve our all-girl team as well, we’re going to give them a chance to perform and showcase this year.
“Our co-ed team will be getting marked but all will have a chance to perform as this year we really wanted to let everybody have a chance to be involved.”
Ebby believes this inclusive aspect to Varsity has shone through in training, where club members have come closer together as a result.
“We all get to join together; both teams get to mix around. There’s a family feeling and we get to enjoy it all together,” she said.
“Normally we have to separate the squads because they compete in different divisions, but for Varsity we all integrate so we all get a chance to work together in their different categories.”
She continued: “There’s a lot more of a family feel, having a good time, having a laugh, as well as working hard, and I feel that the crowd there gets that from us as well.
“We were training for Varsity yesterday, and because we mixed both our squads it was like a cute kind of training session and quite fun, and you get to learn, too.”
Varsity represents such a big occasion for so many people, and to those involved it also means that it is a rare chance to perform for loved ones and close friends, making the occasion even more special.
“It’s getting a chance to perform to our friends and family because usually when we get to competitions it’s to a vast range of other cheerleaders from other universities, but at Varsity we get to invite a lot of our friends and family because it’s not too expensive,” said Ebby.
Equally important is being able to proudly fly the flag of their university, and showcase the hard work that the squads put in to their peers in other teams around DMU.
“It’s all about representing #TeamDMU, really, because this is our chance to really show other teams, lecturers, maybe, how hard we work because they don’t get to see us in training, they don’t get to see all our competitions so we get to show them the effort that we put in.”
With Varsity fast approaching, there is no time to stand still in the run-up to the event, and Ebby has encouraged her squad to dig deep, work together and be positive to see them to success.
“We work better when we work as a team. Our sport is teamwork; it’s not an individual thing. Even when someone’s feeling low you’ve just got to pick them back up, motivate them, and help them to push harder,” she said.
“If you’re feeling happy, spread that happiness across and everybody will work together, and the end result will be that everybody will feel good knowing they’ve had a part to play.”
You can catch cheerleading’s Varsity fixture on Saturday 12 March at 7:00pm at New College. Click here for the full list of Varsity fixtures and get behind #TeamDMU.