WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - You've seen the Purdue cheerleaders on the sidelines of football and basketball games, but you've probably never seen them in their own gym, on their own turf.
Instead of four quarters or two halves, the Purdue Cheerleading squad gets two and a half minutes to showcase everything they've got.
Welcome to the hidden world of competitive college cheerleading. It's a world Purdue Head Cheerleading Coach Steve Solberg said is a mystery to most Purdue fans.
"For a lot of these athletes, this is their one chance to be a competitive athlete," said Solberg. "We love what we do on the sidelines, it's athletic, but really, it's not for us, it's for the football team or the volleyball team, or the basketball team. When we compete, it's for us."
The squad has been practicing since October and will have just under three minutes to compete against other cheerleading squads from across the United States.
Purdue has taken part in the national cheerleading competition almost every year since 1992. Some years have come out victorious.
"In 2002, the team placed second at nationals," said Solberg.
Last year wasn't one of those years. As injuries plagued the team, the Boilermakers fell short, landing in 17th place.
This year, the Boilermakers want redemption, and a chance to show that cheerleading isn't just standing on the sidelines.
"You have the best of the best colleges at nationals," said Purdue cheerleader Ashley Gingerich. "You have this two and a half minute routine and everybody is trying to throw their best skills and get the crowd involved and cheering for them."
"It's not easy stuff," said Purdue cheerleader Casey Colbert. "I am winded after a routine, but it's just so much fun and you can never get another experience like this for anything else."
The competition will take place in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday. The Purdue cheerleading squad competes at 10:20 a.m.
To watch their performance live, visit www.varsity.com.
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