Athlete Spotlight of The Week: Candace Bethune-Brown – Embry Riddle Cheerleading Team

I started cheering as a little girl for a peewee squad just as something to do and because my parent’s put me in it. You know parents put all little girls in cheerleading or gymnastics. Then I stopped doing cheerleading through grade school because I got into other sports. I did track and lacrosse for two years. Then in high school, I decided to go back to cheerleading because I enjoyed it; so, in high school I flopped between track and cheerleading. While cheerleading was on, I would cheer; while track was on, I would run track. This means I would do cheerleading in the fall and track in the winter and spring. Then once I applied to Embry-Riddle, I emailed both the track and cheer coaches and said to myself whichever sport responds first is the sport I’ll do in college. The cheer coach responded to my email first, and I decided to cheer.

When I was little, my parents just put me in cheering, but once you hit 13 or 14, and you are about to go to high school, everyone wants to be a cheerleader. Then, I developed a passion once I got into it. When I first decided to cheer, I was surprised at how athletic it turned out to be. There’s a lot of work you have to put in and to stay in shape as well. We call some teams RA-RA’s because all they do is shake their pompoms, make a lot of noise and not do much. I knew that I didn’t want to be on a team like that. I wanted to be on a team that was competitive and tumbled and did stunts and just wasn’t a RA-RA team.

Now we’re going to nationals, and I’m so excited for us. I didn’t think we would make it to this point before I graduated, so I’m excited. I prep myself for competitions and to cheer by practicing a lot. You get to the point where the routine becomes muscle memory. On competition day, cheerleading competitions are a little different than other competitions. So when it’s your time to go on you have a 20-minute warm-up period where you warm up your stunts and do a full run through of your routine. Then right after that you go and hit the main floor, so everything is very back-to-back. It’s quick, and once you get into the warming up, you have to go into game mode. I always push the negative thoughts out of my head and don’t think about the audience. I try to envision myself doing the routine, not in the competition but back in the gym or in my comfort zone to relax.

A lot of people don’t think cheerleading is a sport, but the cheerleading we do here at Embry-Riddle is a sport. I’ve had more support as a cheerleader from Embry-Riddle than anything. We are an athletic team and not a RA-RA team here at Embry-Riddle. We get a lot of support from the athletic department. In the four years I’ve been here, we’ve gone from club status to getting weight room time, traveling to cheer, practice gear, and getting scholarships.

I came to Embry-Riddle initially to fly, but I switched majors once I was exposed to different things to study here at Embry-Riddle. I’ve always had a passion for aviation, and I started flying when I was 15 years old. So I knew I wanted to do something with the aerospace and aviation industry. My advice for young athletes is to work hard, because you never know who is watching, and always put your best foot forward.

You never who you might come across.

Interviewed by
Shemar Alexander

Credit: Shemar Alexander

Credit: Shemar Alexander