Harris flying high

Published 5:34 pm Saturday, January 14, 2012

Terra Ceia alum Sarah Harris is in her first year as a member of the UNC-Wilmington cheerleading squad and is enjoying her time energizing the crowd during Seahawks’ basketball games. (Contributed Photo)

When Sarah Harris was younger she used love to attend basketball games but the way she watched them varied greatly from the average fan. While most spectators viewed a timeout as a stoppage of play, Harris saw it as the beginning of the show.
“I always loved watching cheerleaders at basketball games,” Harris said. “When we went to Carolina games I was always fascinated with the cheerleaders so that’s kind of where it started I guess.”
Where it’s led to is a chance for Harris to now dazzle the crowd during timeouts as a member of the UNC-Wilmington cheerleading squad.
Harris, a Terra Ceia graduate, cheered for the Knights’ hoops teams since she was a seventh-grader but when she graduated in 2010 she retired her pom-poms and went to pursue a business degree at UNCW. That is until she befriended Torie Mathes.
“I didn’t decide to do it until the end of my freshman year,” Harris said. “One of my friends was on the cheerleading squad and she talked me into trying out. I didn’t think I would ever do it in college. I thought after high school I would be done but she talked me into it.”
Harris regained her form by working on tumbling during the summer and hoped it paid off when it came time to audition in September.
“I really wanted it. I was really nervous because it had been an effort to get my tumbling down that summer,” Harris said. “That wasn’t the only requirement. You were also judged on how you presented yourself and everything. I was extremely nervous … I kind of messed up on some of the cheers that we were taught while we were being judged so I was really nervous because I felt a lot of the girls were better than me.”
After a restless night wondering if she made the six-male, six-female cheer squad Harris finally got the good news.
“The next day I got a text from a friend on the team and he let me know I made it,” Harris said. “I was excited, shocked and relieved.”
While the audition was a butterfly-filled experience, that would be nothing compared to her first real appearance as a member of the Seahawks cheer team. Back at Terra Ceia, Knights basketball games generally drew a big crowd, but that was nothing compared to the number of fans that showed up for UNC-Wilmington’s Midnight Madness.
“It was a little bit overwhelming and nerve-wracking because you know everybody is looking at you,” Harris said. “There was so many more people and the energy is a lot higher. I was just thinking ‘try not to mess up.’”
The 5-foot-4-inch Harris is what’s known in the cheer world as a flyer, which means exactly what you think it dies. For Harris, it’s flying that makes the job so much fun.
“I love stunting the most, that’s my favorite part, that’s when the guy throws you up in the air,” Harris said.
While having the ability to momentarily soar threw the air is worthy of envy, the juggling act that allows her to balance the responsibility of being a cheerleader along with her schoolwork and dedication to her sorority is not.
“The hardest part is juggling everything,” Harris said. “Cheerleading is not necessarily hard, but everything that goes along with it can be. The time you have to put into it, the appearances you make and going to different events and stuff like that with school and clubs, that’s the hardest part.”
Having to multitask all throughout the year as made Harris debate the pros and cons of cheering next season, but as of now the high flyer is enjoying her ride.
“I like it a lot, it’s a lot of fun. I don’t know if I’ll be doing it next year or not but I’m really glad I did it this year,” Harris said.