K-State cheerleaders balance gameday excitement, college experience sacrifices

Taryn Daniels, senior in kinesiology, is a member of the K-State cheerleading team and has been cheering for about 16 years. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

Taryn Daniels, senior in kinesiology and Kansas State cheerleader, said she has always seen cheering at the collegiate level as the end goal of her long cheerleading career.

“It was kind of my overall goal with competitive cheer and high school cheer, to get to some type of collegiate lev0el, more so the D1 level,” Daniels said.

Not only was it an entirely different experience from competitive cheerleading but it was also a much higher level of difficulty and exposure in comparison to high school cheerleading, Daniels said, and cheering for K-State has been a great conclusion to her 16 years of cheerleading.

“It was always my dream,” Daniels said.

Gameday preparation

Come gameday, cheerleaders endure long yet excitement-filled days to prepare for cheering on the Wildcats.

“We have to get ready really, really early,” Anna Shipley, freshman in business management and K-State cheerleader, said. “We usually have to be there six hours before kickoff.”

After getting ready, Daniels said the cheer team meets at the indoor football facility to stretch, warm up and practice stunts. Then the team walks over to the Vanier Football Complex, where the team shares a room with the Classy Cats, to drop off their belongings.

The team also receives a schedule during this time for the day because between their early warm up and walking out on the field, the cheerleaders have several different places to appear.

“Sometimes a group will be right inside the gates handing stuff out, or we have to go to a bunch of tailgates,” Shipley said.

A few cheerleaders will also often appear at the Willie Fun Zone in the Bramlage Coliseum concourse, where kids can color different posters, write letters to players and the cheerleaders pass out face tattoos.

“It’s kind of a long day,” Daniels said. “Last game we had to be there at like 12:30 p.m., and kickoff wasn’t until about 6 p.m.”

Once kickoff time starts approaching and the band is ready, both the cheerleaders and the band line up in the indoor football facility. From there they walk around the west parking lot, where they can see all the fans, and finish at the tunnel by Vanier that they walk through.

Game time

Both Shipley and Daniels said the amount of people and the noise in the stadium at game time is crazy.

“It’s really loud, but there’s so much energy,” Shipley said.

This energy also plays into Daniels’ favorite part of game day.

“I would say the beginning of the game (is my favorite part) because there’s so much hype around it,” Daniels said.

Daniels said she has also allowed her emotions to get to her during her final year on the team.

“Me being a senior this year, I definitely cried during pregame,” Daniels said.

She especially loves when her team is lined up on the field when the band comes out and plays the fight song and the alma mater during pregame, she said.

“That’s when I cried, during the alma mater,” Daniels said. “The alma mater gets me every time.”

Shipley said on top of the band, Willie spelling out KSU and the pump-up videos, pregame is hands down her favorite part of the gameday experience, and the first game was especially special to the team.

Shipley also said the energy during the first game got to the team.

“A lot of us freshmen, when we were standing there for the first game, thought we were going to cry,” Shipley said.

Jake McIntire, junior in kinesiology and K-State yell leader, said being on the sidelines throughout the game is a very overwhelming and unique experience.

“It’s pretty incredible,” McIntire said. “My favorite part is seeing the whole student section do the Wabash. It’s just very overpowering.”


Despite the cheerleaders’ love for gameday, there are sacrifices they have to make in order to be on the team.

Shipley said many times she has had to turn down a night out with her friends due to having practice or having to go to sleep so she can get up at 5 a.m. to go work out.

“You miss out on a lot of other stuff that I think is a part of the normal college experience,” Shipley said.

On top of classes, cheerleaders have workouts and conditioning twice a week in the mornings, as well as three practices a week that can go late into the night, Daniels said. Along with appearing at games, the cheerleaders also appear at several pep rallies and pub crawls. While some of these appearances are volunteer-based, many are mandatory.

Regardless of the circumstances, Daniels and Shipley both said they enjoy being able to share this experience with their team, which they call a family as well.

“I don’t think we’re a normal team,” Shipley said. “We get along really well, and we have a lot of fun together.”

Daniels said since everyone on the team is with one another a lot, they have become extremely close over the past couple months, and all of their fun personalities have led to a fun atmosphere.