Two squads equal twice the cheer for Florida A&M University. The all-girls cheerleading squad consists of 16 people while the co-ed squad has 14.
Cheerleading coach Brandy Tatum said the purpose of having two squads was to provide a variety of people an opportunity to cheer for the university.
“Having 98 people try out, it was hard to pick just 16 people because we do have students that are very good. Some skill levels are higher than others but they’re good,” Tatum said. “So in order to provide more spirit for the university we chose to have two [squads].”
The co-ed squad travels to away games and does more tumbling then the all-girls squad. The all-girls squad cheers at women’s basketball games while the co-ed cheers at the men’s. Both squads cheer at home football games. This year, all-girls will be on the alumni side and co-ed will cheer on the student side of the stadium. This allows for crowd participation on both sides of the stadium. The two squads cheer together on the student side in the last quarters of the game.
Coach Tatum has been working on getting two cheering squads for FAMU for the past two years. She wanted to be mentally ready to take on the job of balancing
the squads while having equal resources for both.
“We don’t ever want one squad to feel like they are better than the other, so we wanted to make sure we brought a unity to both squads and not have a separation,” Tatum said.
As Tatum’s rule, she did not choose captains for either squad. She believes that
she needs time to evaluate personalities for the first month or two.
“You could do great things if I name you captain, but will you keep that spirit up? Is that who you really are as a person,” Tatum asked.
Erica Childs, a senior math education student from Tallahassee, has been cheering for FAMU since her sophomore year. She believes that keeping a positive attitude and working hard is what keeps both squads running.
“What sets us apart from other squads is that we always have each other’s back. We uplift the school and each other,” Childs said.
Childs said that in order to be a cheerleader you have to always support the school, bleed orange and green and not be a “fair-weather” fan.
Both squads take pride in being closely knit, and look at each other as one big team.
“We have to be [closely knit] because we take a lot of criticism. People will tweet about us, make up stuff about us, but we are a close family and if something happens to one of us it happens to us all,” Childs said.
Nandi Rosier, a freshman business student and co-ed cheerleader from Tallahassee, was happy to have the coed squad added to the cheerleaders.
“It was an opportunity to make the team bigger and it gave a lot more people an opportunity to cheer. We just added more attitude and spirit.”
Rosier said she loves being a FAMU cheerleader because not only do they display the universal cheerleading technique, but they also add their own flair with dancing.
Justin Doby, a fourth-year math student from Gainesville, Fla says that cheering for FAMU means the world to him. He has faced stereotypes but said cheerleading is a sport.
“I feel that cheerleading is a sport because we compete. Anything with competition is actually a team event. We get titles, we have study hall and strength and condition just like any other athletes on this campus. Why wouldn’t we be considered a sport?” Doby said. “We get hurt, bruised and sick but we still have to go out there and do it.”
Tatum is very proud of the talent that she has on both squads and looks forward to keeping the spirit alive for FAMU.