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Published: Thursday, 5/20/2004

Sylvania: Northview cheerleaders make MSU squad

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Lauren Fuller, left, and Jessica Elrod. Lauren Fuller, left, and Jessica Elrod.
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Northview High School cheerleaders Jessica Elrod and Lauren Fuller will go from cheering in front of hundreds of fans to over 60,000 when they take to the sidelines at Michigan State University this fall.

Elrod and Fuller beat out about 40 candidates to become part of the 28-member Michigan State University varsity football cheerleading squad.

The Wildcat cheerleaders were two of only four new female additions to the team.

"I am so proud of both of them," said Northview cheerleading coach Cindy Blaze.

"I think that it's amazing that out of four openings two are from Northview. It's such an honor to have two girls who are this talented, courageous, and confident. To make a squad for a Big Ten team like Michigan State University - what an accomplishment!"

The girls already got a taste of Spartan football - they cheered at the spring football game.

Fuller said the stadium was only half full but that she still had butterflies.

"It definitely was a lot more people than at Northview," Fuller said, laughing.

Elrod said she got caught up in watching her teammates.

"I almost forgot I was on the team. I was still watching the cheerleaders," she said.

"But then it hit me, I thought 'I'm in this too.'‚óŹ"

Fuller said she is looking forward to cheering when the Spartans play Ohio State and Notre Dame at home.

"It's going to be awesome, but it's a scary thought," Fuller said.

Fuller said making the MSU team was the culmination of a dream.

"It's been my dream my whole high school career," Fuller said.

Elrod said she first realized that she would like to cheer in college when she was a sophomore and joined Northview's co-ed competitive cheerleading team.

"We did college level stunts and I got a feel for it," Elrod said.

But the pair still had a lot to do just to make the team.

Prior to the tryouts, MSU held weekly workouts and they made the two and half-hour drive almost every week.

Fuller said she and Elrod attended 15 to 20 workouts at Michigan State.

The cheerleaders were required to submit a video on March 19.

Between 25 and 30 made the first cut before a formal tryout in April.

"Our biggest fear was that we both would not make the team," Fuller said. "We just said we would still support the other one and go to games to watch them."

"It would have been hard for a little while, but we both would have supported each other," Elrod concurred.

"Luckily things worked out," Fuller said. "I've never been more excited."

Elrod said she first found out she had made the team when she saw it posted on the Internet.

"I saw my name but I didn't she Lauren's," Elrod said.

"I got teary-eyed and started to cry. I was so tense. But then I clicked down one more time and I saw Lauren's name. I was just so happy.

"I've never been that happy for someone before."

Blaze, who has been the head coach at Northview for four years, said she had 49 girls on her team this year.

She said a few of her girls have gone on to cheer at the University of Toledo, but none have gone on to a Big Ten school.

Blaze said cheerleaders are athletes too.

She said the cheerleaders build pyramids, perform stunts, and dance.

Cheerleading also involves a lot of gymnastics, she said.

"We don't just cheer on the sidelines," Blaze said.

Fuller has cheered for four years at Northview and was voted stunt-cheer captain her senior year.

She was named athlete of the week and received an academic award for her 3.7 grade-point average.

She is a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the honor roll all four years.

Elrod has a 3.56 grade-point average and also is a member of the National Honor Society.

She has cheered on the varsity all four years and was voted captain her senior year.

Both will graduate with honors next month.

They hope to eventually earn full-ride scholarships at Michigan State.

Currently, all travel and gear are fully paid for, Fuller said.

The team's last game is in Hawaii.

"These two girls don't know it yet, but what they've accomplished will give all the cheerleaders from our area the faith to try and maybe raise their expectations of themselves too," Blaze said.

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com.

or 419-724-6110.



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