Burger, Gabriel take spirit to next level
By Phil Sandoval
Post Independent Staff
Paige Burger and Angela Gabriel are changing schools and uniform colors this fall.
After four years together as teammates on the Glenwood Springs High School cheer squad, the two graduating seniors will continue their cheerleading careers at Colorado State University.
The two former Demon cheerleaders are still getting comfortable with CSU’s green-and-gold uniforms rather than their high school’s red-and-white. But it took a lot more than putting on a different outfit to make the 30-member college team.
“It was very nerve-wracking when we first got there,” Burger said of the two-day tryout process in Fort Collins. “There were about 80 girls trying out. That was a little hard to take in because you were in competition with girls you didn’t know anything about.”
For Gabriel, the initial meeting reminded her of her first high school tryout.
“I was very nervous because I didn’t know anyone,” Gabriel said. “But, I did get more comfortable after the first day.”
The first day consisted of each prospect displaying their gymnastic ability.
“You had to show a standing back handspring, a toe-touch backhand spring, a backhand spring/back tuck, a standing back tuck and a running tumbling pass on the gym floor and on a cheer mat,” Burger explained.
Both advanced to the second day of tryouts, where Gabriel and Burger had to perform a task they had done at high school games and cheer competitions, but not as part of a tryout.
“We had to try out in stunt groups,” Gabriel said. “We never had to stunt to try out in high school. We had to put (a routine) together from scratch.”
Both girls’ fears were eased, however, by the support of high school teammate Courtney McCallum, as well as a veteran CSU cheerleader recruited to fill out their tryout team.
“Courtney, Angela and I decided we were going to stunt together,” Burger said. “It was a lot easier because we had stunted together the past three years and the person we chose to be judged [with] was someone who had cheered at CSU for two years.”
After racing back to make their senior prom that evening, Burger and Gabriel got the call.
“I was at Courtney’s house taking pictures when my mom called me,” said Burger. “She told me, ‘you’re a CSU cheerleader.’ I started screaming and I said, ‘Are you serious?’
“I thought she was lying to me because it didn’t seem real.”
Gabriel’s reaction was similar.
“I told (CSU) to call my house. I was at dinner and I called my Mom and asked her if they had heard from CSU, and she said, ‘Yeah, you made the team’. And it was so cool.”
Spirit: see page A26
It also meant a rushed trip to Fort Collins for both the next day.
“We had to go to orientation,” Burger said. “That’s when we got our uniforms and it finally started to sink that I was actually going to cheer in college.”
At their first college football game against intrastate rival University of Colorado next September, Gabriel and Burger will be on the same field with another ex-high school teammate – Megan McGrath – who has been a member of CU’s cheer squad the past two years.
“I have such respect for Megan and I’ve had so many good times with her that I don’t think it’s going to matter,” said Burger. “I think I can run up to her and give her a hug in my CSU uniform and I don’t think its going to make much of a difference.”
While Gabriel and Burger have advanced to a new cheer team, the accomplishments and friendships they forged at Glenwood High will remain strong as they prepare for their first season as college athletes.
“It was a great privilege,” Gabriel said. “I’m never going to forget that, even though I’m on a college cheerleading squad. I can always look back and think that I was a two-time state champion and our squad was amazing. I can’t forget that.””It was a great privilege,” Gabriel said. “I’m never going to forget that, even though I’m on a college cheerleading squad. I can always look back and think that I was a two-time state champion and our squad was amazing. I can’t forget that.”
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