COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–After a year of watching The Ohio State University’s football games at home due to COVID-19 protocols last season, the OSU Cheerleading team returns to the sidelines this Thursday when Ohio State faces Minnesota in the season opener.
The squad of 34 athletes feels grateful to play a special role in OSU game day traditions on the road and at home.
“It’s a really big thing at Ohio State, and we take our traditions really seriously, said Ashley Thomason, a senior at Ohio State.
Like many traditions, last season, the cheerleading team’s role on game days was put on hold.
“Our sport was completely taken from us,” said Emily Gramza, a fourth-year member of the team.
The athletes and coaches were forced to watch games on TV.
“Kind of having to watch from home was a little difficult,” said OSU Cheerleading Head Coach, Ben Schreiber.
“It was really hard for every game to be sitting on a couch and watching it,” said Thomason.
However, the squad is back to practice each day as the 17 female and 17 male cheerleaders perfect their moves for game day performances.
“We focused on a lot of material to make sure that’s clean, we’ve done that same material for years now, so we want to make sure we’re looking sharp during game day,” said OSU senior, Bryden Penhorwood.
Ahead of the season, the cheerleaders held two-a-day practices.
“We have a really high standard of excellence, especially for our material,” said Allissa Thornton, a senior at Ohio State.
“Making sure our gameday stunts look good and crisp,” said Gramza.
Some of the team’s performance material has not changed for decades.
“We have been doing the same fight song for like 50 years, when we have the alumni and the alumni come back, the women who are in their 70s and the ones who just graduated last year are doing the same fight song,” said Thomason.
Although the football team opens the season on the road, the cheerleaders can’t wait to be back inside the Horseshoe for home games.
“We’re excited to you know head off to Minnesota tomorrow and then get ready to host Oregon here in just about a week and a half,” said Schreiber.
“Being in the Shoe and just the noise and the crowd, and everyone’s so excited,” Penhorwood added.
“When they (The Ohio State University Marching Band) dot the I, the stadium just goes crazy, you can’t hear anything,” said Thornton.
“Fans on both sides of us, they’re all yelling and screaming, it’s really incredible,” said Braden Delullo, a senior at Ohio State.
Gramza added, “I think this year is going to be the best year yet.”
“This might be one of the best Ohio State football seasons of all time because of the way that last year was,” said Thomason.
To learn more about the team, visit: https://ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/c-spirit/