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Cheering Rising Rebels Family Style

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Rebel Cheerleaders rely on trust when they’re performing.

Ole Miss cheerleaders Natalie Piznar and John Kelly are happy to be cheering on the Rebels, home or away. They consider the squad their own trusting cheer family as they perform during the most exciting Ole Miss football season fans have enjoyed in a while.

Piznar, a sophomore international business major from Houston, and Kelly, a third-year graduate student from Atlanta studying chemical physics, have just as much fun on the sidelines cheering as the Rebel footballers have scoring points on the field. “It’s so much fun,” said Piznar. Kelly adds he values each recent Rebel victory. “It’s harder to cheer in the games we’re not winning, but we’re winning most of our games this year,” he said.

The thrilling  LSU win made their job a little easier. “It wasn’t hard to get the crowd pumped up because the Rebels were doing it themselves,” said Piznar

Fans depend on the cheer team to set a high spirit level on football Saturdays, win or lose. “Game days are early to rise and late to bed, show up to the game four hours early and stay two extra hours later,” said Kelly.

He adds that fans see the routines but not the work put into them. “Lots of practice goes into getting game days ready, and all anybody sees is the couple of hours we’re out on the field — not all the practice,” he said.

Practice is where trust is built between cheering teammates. “It takes a lot of confidence in each other during practice when you’re going high in the air and coming down,” Kelly said. “It’s more like a family than a team, so a lot of responsibility is on our shoulders at all times. Making sure the girls come down safe is a big responsibility on the guys — catching the girls and staying tight. There is a huge amount of trust developed every practice.”

Piznar trusts the guys on her cheer team like brothers. “It’s like a family and you wouldn’t let your little sister fall to the ground,” she said. “That’s how they treat us.”

The Ole Miss cheer team enjoys traveling to away games together. “You see the atmosphere of other stadiums and cheer the team on when we don’t have too many Rebel fans out there to cheer,” Piznar said.

Being away from the comforts of Vaught-Hemingway can be difficult at first. “It’s a little intimidating being the visitor, especially big games like Alabama, Texas AM or LSU, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Kelly

Kelly’s favorite thing about being a cheerleader is the travel. “The chance to go to other SEC schools and see some of the best and most prolific stadiums in the country is fantastic,” Kelly said. Piznar enjoys the off-the-field opportunities of being a Rebel cheerleader. “All of our community outreach and getting to do different things like meeting old folks at nursing homes is special to me,” she said.

Cheering for Ole Miss is more than performing on the sidelines during each game. For Kelly, the cheering experience means being integrated into the historical Ole Miss spirit — being the face of the university. Making a dramatic lift on the sidelines or reaching out into the community, Ole Miss’ cheer family is representing the university well and having fun doing it.

By Maggie Durnien, Meek School of Journalism and New Media

 

 

 

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