Despite sport’s recognition issues, cheer team is just like any other

For the Gee-Gees cheerleading team, many of their fellow athletes have been struggling to get recognition for their entire lives.

Cheerleading has long been a contentious issue in the eyes of athletics purists. In recent years, there has been a significant enough dialogue about it, so much so that the American Medical Association had to declare it an official sport to protect athletes.

Conversely, federal judges have also ruled multiple times that the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) couldn’t consider it a sport, rendering it unable to be used by colleges to meet gender-equity guidelines.

At the University of Ottawa however, the cheer team is recognized as a sport under competitive club status.

Unlike many other competitive clubs, the cheer team doesn’t necessarily need to strive for varsity status. The standard is that cheerleading teams in Canada are clubs, and often they don’t get funding from athletic departments.

Nicola Brogan, a fourth-year back spot on the Gee-Gees cheer team is fully aware of the pros and cons of being a competitive club at the U of O.

“The best part of having competitive club status is the recognition as student-athletes,” said Brogan, noting the importance of being seen as a team, just like any other.

“We work hard week by week to improve our skills, push our limits, and bond as a team. We support each other with school work, injuries, and emotionally when we get down on ourselves.”

Like other competitive clubs, the cheer team struggles to compensate for the cost associated with participating in their sport.

“I think the most difficult part is the cost of operating the team,” said Brogan. “We all are responsible for paying for our team fees and clothing … many of us work to afford school and cheerleading, so I have utmost respect for the girls that can balance school, work, and cheer practice.”

Despite this, the team is proud of the work they put in representing the school at various cheer competitions and varsity games throughout the year.

It is so exciting and humbling to stand in front of thousands of fans wearing the Gee-Gees logo,” said Brogan. “We are very proud of what we do and it means a lot to the team to see fellow Gee-Gees cheer us on while we stunt and dance!”

The key upcoming events that will feature the cheerleading team include the Panda Game, the PCA National Collegiate Championships in November, Capital Hoops and Big East Blast in February, as well as Kicks Celebration in March.