CFHTT got to sit down with University Cheer team Southampton Vixens. We have found out why they are such a triumphant team and one you should really watch out for on the mat.
“Tell us about Vixens cheer history.”
We are going into our 13th Season and are one of the longest standing University Cheer teams in the UK. We have been and remain to be, ran by a committee made up of Vixens and are proud of what we have achieved on our own as a club. Though we do not have a local All-star programme that feeds into the University, we have always remained competitive and our consistent standards are starting to help us to attract girls with previous cheer experience. Originally we had one team for both girls at Southampton University and Solent University, but when the American Football team split to represent the two University’s in 2010/2011 it made sense for there to be two cheer squads also. Both teams continue to support each other at every competition we are at.
“How many teams do Vixens have and what does each team do?”
Each year we have a minimum of 3 teams with around 100 members across the whole club. Our Competition squad compete around 3 or 4 times a year both in University and All-star divisions. Like other University teams, we see approximately half the team graduate and leave Southampton at the end of each season. This means we have around 3 months before our first competition to train a new team where 50% off the girls have never cheered before and aim to get them to a standard where they can compete at Level 3 competitively. The Vixens competition team has previously won National Champion titles at BCA, ICC and Future Cheer and in the 2014 season we won University Grand Champions getting the highest score out of approximately 70 teams.
Our Hip Hop team has also been incredibly successful. Last season they were crowned National Champions in the University Hip Hop division and were given the fantastic opportunity to go and compete at NDA Daytona Beach International Championships where they placed 2nd. This season’s girls put out one of the most entertaining routines Vixens has done and received a lot of praise from both All-star and other Universities dance teams.
Our largest squad is our Game Day squad. They cheer on the American Football team and have a lot of fun doing so! They have the difficult task of putting out a different routine sometimes weekly in order to stay entertaining to the crowd at the games. They are very committed, often standing in the rain to cheer on the American Football team and will do what they can to ensure they are at every game. Within the University they are the ‘face’ of Vixens and can always be relied upon to help with our fundraisers and social profile. This year, coached by the Competition Squad Coaches, members of Game Day were given the opportunity to compete as an all-girl and coed stunt group at Future Cheer and ICC Nationals.
“How successful was your cheer season this year?”
At Vixens we really focus on consistency and each year our aim is to place in the Top 3 as we usually enter large divisions.
Our competition squad got three 2nd place trophies and one 3rd place this season. Our Hip Hop team won 1st as well as two 2nd and one 3rd place trophy. Our Allgirl 4, Allgirl 3 and Coed 3 all ended the season being ICC Nationals Champions in the Open Division with our Allgirl 4 having an unbeaten season.
“What is the Vixen’s favourite cheerleading competition?”
We really enjoy Future Cheer University Nationals. The atmosphere is always really friendly and I think a part of this is due to us all appreciating some of the difficulties University team’s face e.g. funding, training space, time frame etc. It is great to see so many teams at this event and each year you get to see the standard improve.
We love ICC Nationals also as the girls get to see some of the higher level teams and you can see how much this motivates them. It’s our last competition of the season and you can see how much the girls really want it. By this point they have put in so much time and effort, they really just want to go out onto the mat and show everyone what they have been working towards. As it’s our last competition it’s usually our most emotional as it is the last time a lot of girls will compete not only as Vixens but in general before they go on to focus on their careers.
“How has being part of the Vixens cheerleading team affected your university life?”
You immediately have a large circle of friends that have similar interests to you. Many girls end up being on the same course and each year Vixens end up house sharing together. Though training alongside exams can be very stressful, it helps push the girls to take ownership and stay on top of their work load as commitment is key in having a good season.
“Why should university students join Vixen Cheerleading?”
Regardless of which of our teams you wish to join, you automatically go to University and are a part of a society that boasts over 100 people. It is a fantastic way to make lasting friendships and to give you experiences you didn’t even know about; In the words of a girl who joined last season
“I’ve fallen in love with a sport I didn’t even know existed a year ago.”
It’s also a great way to stay fit while at University and to give you a bit of a stress relief when your degree starts getting stressful. As well as training there are weekly social events and Vixens go on tour to Spain yearly so it is a great social society as well as an athletic one.
“What useful skills has cheerleading taught you?”
Number one is definitely commitment. Trying to explain to a non-cheerleader ‘I can’t come as I have practice’, is something we are all used too. We have seen girls In previous years cancel events, move holidays around training times and turn up ill just to sit and watch the session. As previously mentioned managing your work load is also a skill gained from doing University Cheer and just learning how to positively work in a team of 30+ other people.
“Are there any transferable skills that you have learnt from cheer that you can use later on in life?”
Definitely. At University, the cheerleaders make up our committee that help the smooth running of the club. Roles such as President, Media Secretary, Treasurer and Coach Positions etc. really can help when applying for future job roles. Not only do you have your degree but you can have proof of work you have done, which is sometimes lost when solely focusing on a degree as many employers like to see experience also.
What would your lives be without cheer?
Uneventful! The Cheer World is like no other sport and we have all met some amazing people as a result of cheer. One Vixen has recently started Modelling as a result of being spotted at a competition and one of our ex coaches smashed Ninja Warrior UK recently. Competition weekends away together has brought us all so many laughs and stories and I think every Vixen has left University thanking the squad for all the memories it has created; some find it too hard to leave and stay to do a Masters
“Do you guys use social media platforms?”
Facebook Page –Southampton Vixens Cheerleading Squad
Twitter and Instagram – Vixencheer
“Is there any other information you would like to share with CFHTT?”
We are really proud of how far University Cheer has come. It is great to see so many teams be level appropriate and to be highly competitive. We want to wish all teams luck for the next season and can’t wait to see what you all put out on the mat. We are also excited to welcome all the future Vixens about to join us and to show the rest of the Cheer World what we have spent the last few months planning!