TuksCheerleading is best described as the unheralded backbone of TuksSport, and perhaps even as one of the fundamental pieces in the framework that has led to UP’s sporting success in recent years, including 2017. UP has achieved unparalleled levels of success in 2017 in the Varsity Rugby, Hockey, and Athletics tournaments, and the Tuks Cheerleaders have been present at all of them.
The club has existed as an official sporting code since 2015, alongside the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University and North-West University, and is helping to increase the popularity of cheerleading across the country. Many athletes join the club for the opportunity it provides to get involved with TuksSport and to serve as brand ambassadors for TuksSport. Cheerleaders at the club are considered as much athletes as they are performers, and are required to maintain high levels of physical fitness. Every year, the club hosts two scheduled auditions at the beginning of each semester, with both men and women welcome to the auditions and training. Athletes that meet selection criteria at these events are considered for the High Performance squad, which is the squad that performs at all major TuksSport home events and matches throughout the year. A two-week boot camp, preceding the club’s annual Varsity Cheerleading Championship, is held every season and aims to train and enhance the required skill sets of the club’s cheerleaders.
The TuksCheerleading squad typically has a majority of female performers and includes a variety of dancers, acrobats and gymnasts, all of whom add to the uniqueness of the team. Cheering is considered to have a marked impact on the atmosphere of TuksSport matches, and serves to boost team and audience morale. Training and routine exercises include flexibility and strength training, and focus mainly on allowing athletes to understand their routine and the physical demands of cheerleading.
A typical challenge the squad faces is incorporating new members into the squad, and allowing them an appropriate time to find their feet, before having them take on the responsibility of performing at big events. The squad has to incorporate all the different types of experience in the team, while attempting to integrate each squad member’s individual talent to form an impressive performance.