Cougars Crank It Up
The Cambridge Cougars Cheerleading team have revealed another way that brains and brawn can be combined at the University.
The Cambridge Cheerleading squad has taken the Nationals by storm today for proving BRAINS, LOOKS, and MOVES are all compatible at our ancient and BEHIND-THE-TIMES University.
Cambridge University, long considered a hallowed hall of traditional British learning, has been given an injection of American teen spirit thanks to the University cheerleading squad, the Cougars.
The 45-strong squad of bombshells, set up just 3 years ago, are certainly an eye-catching bunch in their skimpy blue and white dresses.
Brainy beauty Alison Berner, 21, set up the squad when she arrived to study medicine at Jesus.
She said: ‘‘when I found out there wasn't a cheerleading squad at Cambridge I decided to do my own research and start up a team myself.”
The squad practices twice a week and is now common addition to Varsity matches.
They cheered the Rugby League team to victory in this year’s Varsity match as well as supporting the volleyball, basketball, football and hockey teams.
They have also performed at Cindies and at the 2008 Churchill College Spring Ball.
Studies have shown that cheerleading is America’s most dangerous sport for young women but the most serious injury a Cougar has ever sustained is a bruise.
The squad even competes in national competitions.
Berner said: “'At first I thought we would just perform at University games and Varsity matches, but I realized we had a chance at competing so we entered the British Cheerleading Association University contest in 2008.”
They went on to win the competition. This victory, along with their other successes, has spurred the team on to bigger and better things.
Vice President of the Cougars 21-year-old Tanya-Lucy Bell, in her final year reading Education with English at Homerton College, said:
''The competition we won at Easter was fantastic and we're hoping to move up to a higher level of difficulty next year.”
Despite this success the Cougars still face some difficulties.
It's difficult to recruit male members: at the moment they have just four boys who are essential for the more complicated, and heavy-duty, lifts.
Bell said: “There's a lot of stigma attached. It's seen as a girl thing.”
They are also unable to get university funding.
Bell commented: “It's a shame that we're not fully recognized by the university as cheerleading is not considered as a proper sport so we can't get our colours or get funding.
''But there have been bids to include cheerleading in the Olympics so hopefully that will change soon.”
Although the cheerleading squad’s main objective is to cheer on other Cambridge teams to victory they have their own varsity in mind.
Current President Cally Humphreys, a 23-year-old material science Ph. D student, said: "Oxford's cheerleading team have been around a lot longer than us.
"But we hope to catch up with them soon."
Whether supporting a Varsity match or competing in their own no doubt the Cougars will bring it on and show Oxford who’s boss.
Among the Cambridge girls hoping to beat Oxford are the seven pictured here:
Robin Best, 21, from Ilkley, West Yorkshire. Natural sciences student at Gonville and Caius. Ambition: Environmental work.
Cally Humphrey, 23, from Devon. Cougars president. Materials science PhD student at Corpus Christi College. Ambition: Scientist.
Sarah Reid, 20, from Oxford. Music student at Homerton, specialising in the flute. Ambition: Professional musician.
Rebecca Grant, 19, from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. Medicine student at Trinity. Ambition: Doctor.
Tanya-Lucy Bell, 21, from Holywood, Belfast. English with education student at Homerton. Ambition: Primary school teacher.
Marielouise Lercher, 20, born in Austria, lives in Germany. Natural sciences at Peterhouse. Ambition: Surgeon.
Catherine Vincent, 20, from Woodford Green, North-East London. Classics student at Trinity. Ambition: Primary school teacher.