Male, female members perform in all athletic seasons to encourage UT teams, fans

The Vols cheerleading squad may not get as much coverage as the sports it cheers for, but it works just as hard on its performance at the games.

Full of life and pep, the team practices each week to help lead UT fans as they cheer on their favorite team. Katie Kindred, senior in retail and consumer science, said cheerleading is about being an ambassador to the school.

"It's awesome cheering for every sport here," Kindred said. "We cheer for men's and women's basketball, we cheer for the Lady Vol volleyball team, we do pep rallies everywhere, so we get to be involved in everything.

"It's about having fun and supporting your university."

Kindred said there was no sport she enjoyed cheering for more than another, but she said different experiences, like the NCAA Final Four in basketball, had been highlights.

The team practices together several times per week during the football and basketball seasons, and Kindred said this is an amazing opportunity to build friendships.

"We're with these people every day for at least three hours a day, and we come in and practice on our own," Kindred said. "It's kind of like a sorority and a fraternity put together, and you hang out with these people like they're your brothers and sisters. It's definitely a family."

Jake Gieske, a business pre-major sophomore, said that from a male's point of view, cheerleading might not seem to be the most masculine thing, but he refuted this by adding that it takes extreme skill and athleticism. His favorite aspect of cheerleading is "Running Through the T" at football games, and he looks forward to coming to practice every day.

"It's a lot of fun," Gieske said. "We do a lot of things that are very athletic. I lift four days a week, so it's very athletic. It's a great way to be on the sidelines and still be involved."

Joy Postell-Gee serves as the head coach for the Tennessee spirit program and is leading the upcoming auditions on April 29. Postell-Gee said that, although there is no lack of talented young women for the team, it is harder to find young men who are willing to invest their time and effort into cheerleading.

"We do struggle with the male skill level, because, especially in East Tennessee, male cheerleading is certainly not prominent," Postell-Gee said. "Typically, we take other athletes, maybe former football players or basketball players. We generally have very athletic males."

The cheerleading team is offering auditions April 29 and 30 and May 19 to all university students, including incoming freshmen. Postell-Gee said the opportunity to be on the squad is something that helps students feel more involved and have the immediate comforts of a family.

"Right away, you become invested in the university once you're selected," Postell-Gee said. "You almost automatically have a family. A home-away-from-home family. Instantly you get brothers and sisters and 'Momma Joy,' and I do think it offers comfort."