Cheerleading in College and the NFL

Terra Young cheered for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (2011-2015) before joining the Miami Dolphins. The Lincoln native grew up in a Husker family and knew early on that cheerleading would be a big part of her life.

Cheerleaders play a vital role in college athletics but unfortunately do not always get the recognition they deserve. Just like other student-athletes, the cheer squad practices, engages in community outreach, and competes on the weekends. All while being full-time students. Her dedication and passion for the sport make Terra a great role-model for girls of all ages. Learn about her story, advice, and follow her journey on Instagram.

How old were you when you first started cheerleading?

I started dancing around the age of 4, and grew up competing in dance competitions throughout the Midwest. When I entered high school the dance team allowed only juniors and seniors to audition, which led me to try out for the cheer squad.

How did you get interested in cheerleading?

I grew up with 2 older brothers and was constantly surrounded by sports. My family and I were all born in raised Lincoln, making us huge Husker fans. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of a crowded sports arena or football stadium, the energy and competition was something I was very drawn to. I knew when I enrolled in college at the University of Nebraska I had to be out there on football Saturdays.

How did cheerleading prepare you for your post-graduation life?

Cheerleading goes far beyond the sidelines. Throughout my cheer experience at UNL, we regularly participated in appearances with the community several times a month. Whether this be volunteering in elementary schools, nursing homes, or fundraisers. Our cheer squad held a 3.4 average GPA, making sure we balanced academics with our cheer events. College cheerleading taught me how to network within my community. I learned important social skills and how to communicate with professionals.

If you could give one piece of advice to freshmen cheerleaders, what would it be?

My piece of advice would be to enjoy every moment! College goes by in the blink of an eye. Cherish your friendships and experiences, and take every opportunity you can.

If you could go back in time and re-start your cheerleading career, what would you do differently?

My cheerleading career taught me a lot about myself and my growth into adulthood. I gained life long friendships and had experiences of a lifetime. I don’t think I would do anything differently, had I have the chance to go back and do it all over again.

What do you miss the most / the least about being a college cheerleader?

Living here in Florida, I definitely miss college game days. The feeling of cheering at a sold out memorial stadium, and being on the sidelines for all of the action is something I will never forget. I have had some incredible experiences as an NFL cheerleader but nothing compares to husker game days!

What was your biggest challenge as a cheerleader?

As a Nebraska cheerleader, we cheered at football games, men’s and women’s basketball games, and volleyball games as well. There were lots of opportunities for traveling to away games or tournaments. All of this along with weekly practices and community appearances kept us very busy. On top of this all, we were full-time college students often with outside jobs and commitments. My biggest challenge was learning how to balance it all. Throughout my 4 years, I learned so much about time management, and how to fulfill commitments.

What was your most memorable (positive) experience as a college cheerleader?

My most memorable experience of college cheerleading was the friendships I made. I gained lifelong friends who taught me so much about myself, who lifted me up through my college career and helped shape the person I am today

How would you describe the role cheerleaders play in college sports?

Cheerleaders act as ambassadors for their University and their college sports team. They have an important role bringing positivity, energy, comradery, and passion for college sports.

What did a regular day in the life of a college cheerleader look like?

A regular day for a college cheerleader would be a day full of class, homework, and practice. Some days were early morning practice, some were late in the evening, getting home as late as 11 pm. Depending on the season, we may have basketball or volleyball games to cheer at on weeknights, followed by late night studying. Every Friday morning before a home football game, we were at Memorial Stadium at 6 am for a pregame run through. Our schedules were full all year long.

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