Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Ready For Tryouts

For most high schools, the winter sports season has come to an end; which means so has the cheerleading season for all high school cheerleaders, unless your school competes. With the 2010-2011 cheerleading season coming to an end, it's time to think about tryouts for next year. Whether you're trying out for your high school squad again this year or moving up to the next level and trying out for a college squad, here are some helpful tips to make your tryout experience better and less stressful.

  • If the squad you are trying out for holds clinics to teach the material before the actual tryouts make sure to be at every single one, even if they are optional. Remember practice makes perfect.
  • If you are given the option to have a copy of the music for your tryout dance, go ahead and get one. Practicing at home with the music will help you with the dance more than just doing it to counts. Maybe even try having a mock-tryout, ask your parents or some friends to act like judges and judge you on how well you know your dance.
  • If you are taught a cheer at tryouts, remember to write down the words to the cheer. Trust me, after learning that much in one night even the simplest words are hard to remember.
  • Stretch every night, after all that dancing and motion drills your body is going to be very sore. Stretching can help make the pain less painful. Also, you have the added bonus of improving your jumps.
  • Even if you do not have tumbling, do not let that discourage you. Work extra hard on the other aspects, "wow" the judges, and ask if there is a tumbling class available. This will let the judges know you're serious about wanting to be on the squad and willing to improve.
  • Remember to not overdo it on tryout day. Even though cheerleading is a very glittery sport, the judges want to see the real you without all that make-up on. Also a tucked-in shirt and not so short, shorts can go a long way. Think of it as a job interview, you wouldn't hire someone who looks like a slob.
  • Don't stress on tryout day, there are lots of other people in the same boat as you.  Even if you mess up, most judges will let you start again. So take a deep breath in, get rid of all those negative thoughts, put your best smile on, and try again. The judges are not only looking for people with talent but ones who are not willing to give up.
And remember, even if you do not make the cut, there is always next year. Also maybe consider trying out for an All-Star squad, that way you can continue cheering and fine tuning your skills so you can do better at tryouts the next year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

St. Providence High School Varsity Competition Squad 2011

What caught my attention while watching this squad, was their flyers amazing flexibility and also just the experience and talent this squad has. Another reason I picked this particular video was you can see the bright lights on them. At a large competition like this one, squads not only have to deal with being nervous but also having bright lights shinning in their faces while they hold and throw girls in the air. However, while the bright lights may make it a tad more challenging to catch your flyer, they somewhat help with the nerves. Because the lights are so bright, you can not see anyone in the audience.

2011 College, High School, and All-Star Cheerleading National Championships

The 2011 National Cheerleading Championships are over now, but this Sunday February 27, you have the chance to watch them on ESPN or ESPN2. So while you may not have had the money or the time to make it to Disney World to watch the competition first hand, you can still be apart of the action. According to The Universal Cheerleading Association website here are the times and channels of the competitions, but check your local listing to make sure.

College Championships  12:00-1:00 PM  on ESPN 2
High School Championships 8:30-10:30 AM on ESPN

The All-Star segment does not air until April. Also, the second half of the college championships does not air until next Sunday, March 6th. Check out the website for more details.

It's Dress Shopping Season

My dress: However, I ordered it in purple.
 With prom coming up in May, I started to shop for a dress. After not finding the perfect one in any of the three shops I looked at last weekend, this weekend it only took me one shop and four dresses to find my dream dress. I actually ended up with something completely different from my junior year prom dress. Last year my dress was completely covered in beads and sequins, this year my dress is more simple. I'm extremely excited for prom this year. My school hosts our prom at a local "community center/country club" and I really enjoyed it last year. My friend's parents put together a home cooked dinner for us at their house before we went to promenade. Promenade is a parade right before prom so people from the community, family friends, and teachers can see all the juniors and seniors all dressed up. After promenade, all the students get in their cars and drive to the prom and dance the night away, well at least till 11. After the dance is over, most kids go to an after party. My friends and I camped last year. We spent the night sitting around a huge bond fire, talking about the day and eating snacks. I had so much fun at the prom last year and this year I hope will be even better.

Friday, February 18, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

2010 Dunbar High School

Few people may remember the television show Cheerleader Nation which aired in 2007. This show was somewhat of a documentary of cheerleading, focusing on the Dunbar Varsity cheerleading squad. What was special about this squad was they were National Champions three years in a row, going for their fourth year. The show documented everything from practices, competitions, work they did in their community, and their personal lives. I felt that the show really portrayed cheerleading in a realistic way, showing the struggles and pressure their squad was under to win that fourth championship. This video is of their 2010 squad. While the girls we fell in love with on the show no longer are apart of this squad, the great Dunbar cheerleading tradition is still alive. They have now won seven, count them seven, national championship titles.

College Cheerleading

University of Louisville 2011 All-Girl Stunt Group

I plan to continue my cheerleading career in college. However, I did not pick the colleges I applied to because of their cheerleading squads. If I would have, The University of Louisville would have been high up there on my list. This video of their all-girl stunt group proves why they have been one of the best collegiate cheerleading programs in the country for years. And for those of you out there who aren't familiar with cheerleading lingo, a stunt group competition is a segment of a normal competition where squads can chose to have one stunt group compete. Each group has to come up with their own routine consisting of only stunts and practice on their own time. I have actually competed in stunt competitions before. My sophomore year in high school, my group was undefeated; winning first place at every competition we competed at.

Grab a Healthy Breakfast from a Fast Food Restaurant?!

Are you normally rushed in the morning? Or running late because your alarm failed to go off? You're hungry and need to eat breakfast but just do not have the time to. However, because of your recently started diet you're contemplating just skipping breakfast. But not so fast, what if you could get a healthy breakfast, quick from a fast food joint? Well here is a list of the top 10 healthiest fast food breakfasts thanks to (Fast Food Breakfast). 

1. Spinach Florentine Breakfast Wrap (Cosi)
This wrap consits of eggs, spinach, Swiss & artichoke spread wrapped inside a warm tortilla.
Calories 334
Fat 21g (sat 8g)
Protein 24g
Carbohydrate 21g
Fiber 11g
Sodium 516mg
2. Protein Artisan Snack Plate (Starbucks)
This snake plate includes a hard-boiled egg, cheddar and apple slices, multi grain muesli bread, grapes, and honey peanut butter spread.
Calories 370
Fat 19g (sat 6g)
Protein 13g
Carbohydrate 36g
Fiber 4g
Sodium 470mg

3. Berry Topper Ideal Meal (Jamba Juice)
It's made with yogurt and soy milk blended together with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. And topped with organic pumpkin flaxseed granola.
Calories 300
Fat 4.5g (sat 0.5g)
Protein 9g
Carbohydrate 59g
Fiber 7g
Sodium 85mg (for 12 ounces)

4. Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Au Bon Pain)
Calories 280
Fat 4g (sat 1g)
Protein 8g
Carbohydrate 56g
Fiber 7g
Sodium 10mg

5. Scrambled Egg Whites, Chicken Sausage, and Fruit (Denny's)
Calories 230
Fat 9g (sat 0g)
Protein 19g 
Carbohydrate 19g
Fiber 3g
Sodium 447mg

6. Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (McDonald's) 
Calories 260
Fat 4.5g (sat 1.5g)
Protein 7g
Carbohydrate 48g
Fiber 5g
Sodium 115mg (for oatmeal without brown sugar)

7. Simple & Fit Veggie Omelet (IHOP)
This veggie omelette is made with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and oven-roasted tomatoes.
Calories 320
Fat 10g (sat 1g)
Protein 21g
Carbohydrate 40g
Fiber 8g
Sodium 420mg

8. Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt (Subway)
Subway's melt sports egg whites, Black Forest ham, green peppers, American and Monterey Jack cheeses, and red onion stacked on an English muffin.
Calories 160
Fat 4g (sat 1.5g)
Protein 15g
Carbohydrate 19g
Fiber 5g
Sodium 680mg

9. Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap (Dunkin' Donuts)
The Wake-Up Wrap consists of reduced-fat cheddar cheese, egg whites, spinach, and turkey sausage.
Calories 150
Fat 5g (sat 2.5g)
Protein 11g
Carbohydrate 14g
Fiber 1g
Sodium 400mg

10. Breakfast Power Sandwich (Panera Bread)
This sandwich includes egg, Vermont white cheddar, and smoked lean ham sandwich.
Calories 330
Fat 14g (sat 6g)
Protein 22g
Carbohydrate 31g
Fiber 4g
Sodium 830mg.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

PCA Competitive Cheerleading Squad NCA High School Nationals 2011

I choose this squad because of the large number of girls on the mat. With a squad this large there are many pro's and con's. For instance, more girls means more stunt groups that can fall and more girls to keep in sync during stunts and motions. However, if you can pull off having every stunt hit and having your timing perfect; you can score big in the difficulty area. This squad is an excellent example of how a large number of girls can help their scores rather than hurt.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Protect Yourself from Contracting the Flu

"Researchers hope a new treatment developed in the United Kingdom will prove vital in controlling future flu pandemics such as H1N1 (swine) flu, bird flu as well as ending the need for annual flu jabs. Developed by scientists at Oxford University, the new vaccine works by targeting protein cells inside the influenza A virus, instead of current vaccines that attack proteins on the outside of the flu virus. According to Sarah Gilbert, head of the project at Oxford's Jenner Institute, this method is effective because proteins inside the virus are far more similar across all the influenza strains and are less likely to mutate. In the first successful trial on humans, 11 healthy people were vaccinated and infected with the seasonal flu strain along with 11 non-vaccinated volunteers. The initial results are positive, says Peter Palese, professor and chair of microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, but more research is needed before the new treatment is approved. "But although the vaccine has been give to humans, unfortunately there is no evidence presented to say if it really results in protection against infection." Gilbert agrees more work is required before the vaccine becomes available, estimating a wait of at least five year, but says the results are a fundamental next step in the treatment of flu. (Universal Flu Vaccine Research)"

No one enjoys contracting the flu. You feel sick and nauseous to the point where you can hardly keep any food down, and you feel so weak that you have to stay in bed for days. Thankfully scientists from Oxford University have been working on a vaccine to prevent all those unappealing feelings. They still need to do more research and clinical trials, but the results so far are looking good. What surprised me the most was the statistics of how many people in the U.S. die each year just from the regular seasonal flu, around 36,000 people. If this new vaccine turns out to be helpful to the people participating in the clinical trials and the vaccine ends up on the market, it could not only save people from the nasty symptoms of the flu but could also possibly save lives. I found it very interesting and ingenious that the scientists decided to target the protein in the infected cells. Before scientists were having a hard time finding a vaccine for the flu because the virus mutates every year, so every year they would have to produce a new vaccine. Coming up with the idea to target the proteins in the virus, if it works, could bring us one step closer to curing the common cold. Since the common cold, like the flu virus, mutates every year.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

UCA Staff Uses Their Talent to Help Raise Funds for MDA

"Throughout the year, UCA State Directors raise money for Muscle Dystrophy Association (MDA). They do a variety of fundraisers to raise money, like hold jump offs at their competitions and host fundraising events. Each year UCA Regional Manager, Lauri Harris, heads up the MDA project. To help spread the word she, along with some help from local squads, created a Flash Mob video and called it "How many muscles does it take to walk?" (UCA and MDA)"

"For the past 20 years, the UCA Staff has presented MDA with a check at the Labor Day Telethon and every year has raised enough money to present MDA with a check of $50,000. Once the staff has presented MDA with a check, they get to show off their skills by performing live on the Labor Day Telethon. "

I think many people view cheerleading as a "shallow" sport, every squad is all glammed up with sparkles and big curls with their short skirts. However, behind all the glitter and pep of a cheerleader, there is a person who volunteers in their community.  The staff of UCA (The Universal Cheerleading Association) is no different. They, like many other squads, have set out to make a better name for cheerleaders. UCA encourages squads across America to volunteer in their community and use their talent to help raise funds for causes like MDA.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

Mill Creek High School Competition Squad 2009

This squad has amazing stunts and precision in everything they do. However, I choose this squad because of their amazing use of transition and sound effects. I love their triple toe-touch to backtuck sequence in the beginning; it's a really visual effect that "wows" the judges. Also, the tumbling transition before their cheer had a nice ripple effect. Lastly, in the tumbling zoo I thought it was cool how whenever a girl did a full twisting layout there was a sound effect to go along with it. It take a lot of practice and timing to get every girl to twist on a sound effect.

Watching What You Eat, Literally

"Researchers had 22 volunteers eat a meal while playing computer solitaire and 22 others eat the same meal in the same amount of time while undistracted. They told the subjects it was a test of the effect of food on memory, but actually they were testing how full people felt after a meal, how much they ate at a “taste test” 30 minutes later, and how successfully they could recall exactly what they ate. Not only were distracted eaters worse at remembering what they had eaten, but they felt significantly less full just after lunch. And at the taste-test session a half-hour later, they ate about twice as many cookies as those who had lunch without playing games. Dr. Brunstrom, a researcher in behavioral nutrition at the University of Bristol in England, said the problem lay in recalling what one has eaten. “Memory plays an important role in the regulation of food intake,” he said, “and distractions during eating disrupt that.” (Behavior: Distracted Eating Adds More to Waistlines)"

Don't believe this, try it yourself. Grab a bag of pretzels or your favorite snack and put some in a bowl, sit in front of the television and start to snack, see how many times you fill up your bowl before you feel you are hungry. Then do this again but while you are doing nothing but eating. I guarantee you will eat less and feel more full after watching what you ate. Also, try counting the number of bites. This will keep your mind engaged in what you are doing and make you more aware of the amount of food you are putting into your body. By watching what you are putting into your body and mentally acknowledging how much food you are eating, this will help you be healthier and maybe even drop a few pounds.

Goodbye, Smelly Smoke

"After a bitter debate over individual liberties and the role of government, the City Council on Wednesday handily approved a bill to ban smoking in 1,700 city parks and along 14 miles of city beaches. By a 36-to-12 vote, the Council passed the most significant expansion of anti-smoking laws since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pushed to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars in 2002. (Smoking Ban for Beaches and Parks is Approved)"

As a nonsmoker and person who cannot stand the smell of cigarettes, this is a great law to be passed. However, I'm skeptic of how well it will be enforced. What are the police going to do, have police officers at every park and beach patrolling for people lighting up a cigarette? I think this is a great idea since second hand smoke has been shown to be very harmful but I just do not think that this law will be able to be enforced. Similarly, the law that banned smoking in bars and restaurants is not extremely hard to get around. I've been to many restaurants where there were people smoking and no one said anything to them. While I think that it's great that the government is trying to improve the standard of living and health by banning smoking in a few public places, I do not think it's enough. The only way to ban smoking in areas such as these is to stop making cigarettes and outlaw them. If there were no cigarettes, people could not smoke at the park or on the beach. However, that would never work either. It would turn into a black market just like what happened with alcohol when it was banned. In an ideal solution, the production of cigarettes would be stopped so no more people could become addicted to them and the people still alive that are addicted to them could have some sort of patch that gave them the nicotine through their skin so they did not have to danger people with their secondhand smoke. But this solution would never go through in our society.