Jeannine and Jessica Patrick are twin cheerleaders for the Penn State University Nittany Lions All-Girl White Squad ranked second in the nation! In addition to football and basketball games, Jeannine and Jessica also say they cheer at some other events you may not even think of. "We cheer at gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling matches too. Also, we do many outside appearances to represent the University, such as pep rallies, tailgates, lunches, dinners, parades, golf tournaments, parties, and many major University events."
This dynamic duo began building the skills they needed for cheerleading at the age of three when they joined a gymnastics club. Jeannine has been cheering for about eight years, and Jessica for nine years. Jeannine says, "In 8th grade, we both tried out for the junior high cheerleading squad. Jess made the team, and I did not! But, I worked at it and made it the next year."
The twins report that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and teamwork to be a good cheerleader. "We work out at the gym two to three times a week for about two hours. We have optional gymnastics classes on Fridays for two hours. One night a week we do yoga to help us with our flexibility. But, practice is how we really stay in shape we do gymnastics, running, conditioning, practice fight songs or dancing, and of course, we practice our stunts." The girls often have to manage two games, six or more hours of practice, workouts, and academics all in one week! They say, "It's tough, but it's all worth it in the end."
Jeannine and Jessica say they didn't spend as much time in the gym during their junior and senior high school days. "In junior high, we practiced one day a week. Our high school practices were three days a week for two hours during competition season, and during game season, we considered games practices too."
Jeannine and Jessica say they are competitive, but never against each other. "Because we are twins, people do not like to see us apart...we are competitive in our own ways and this pushes us harder to achieve our goals." They've each had challenges along the way Jeannine had trouble completing a standing back tuck, but she kept working at it and reached her goal. "It took me three years to get it!" Jessica had a tough time perfecting a stunt where she was lifted into the air by her teammates and had to stand on one foot. She says, "I can't even tell you how many times I crashed down on my sister to get this skill...she helped me through it!" These sisters know all about teamwork!
Due to the success of their squad, and the athletic teams they root for, the Patricks have traveled to lots of fun places. "My favorite trip was to a golf tournament in Delaware. We stayed at the beach for a week for free," Jeannine says. Jessica attended a women's basketball tournament in St. Louis, MO. "We were there for a week while our team led us to victory. It was awesome!" Both girls admit, however, the best feeling was attending the 2001 National Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida, where they placed second.
If you're interested in cheering, Jeannine and Jessica suggest getting involved in cheerleading through your school. "When we got to junior high, cheerleading seemed like a lot of fun, so we tried out." Gymnastics and dance are also good skills to help your cheering and ability to do different kinds of stunts, too. The twins also recommend checking out the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA). "We are instructors for the UCA, an organization that teaches cheer teams to stunt and cheer safely while having fun."
Above all, the twins say, "The most important thing to remember is that the fans recognize those who love cheering and those who would rather be somewhere else. You have to love what you do in the uniform instead of just the uniform!"
Don't worry if you don't have the uniform, or lots of experience like Jeannine and Jessica. You can show off your spirit anytime!
more info on cheerleading!