Cheerleading often conjures up a stereotype of blonde hair, sexy costumes and a brain one sandwich short of a picnic.
But there is much more than meets the eye to Penrith Panthers cheerleader Chelsea Neubronner.
Smart and savvy, Chelsea not only has been cheerleading for the Penrith Panthers for the past four years, but is also juggling an honours thesis in religion at the University of Sydney and a part time job as a dance instructor for children.
“I have been dancing since I was very young and always looked at the cheerleaders and thought that it would be an amazing and fun opportunity – it is a great experience being able to perform in front of such a large crowd and it is a wonderful feeling to be part of each game,” Chelsea said.
Chelsea attends training sessions on Wednesday nights for the cheerleading squad but said that juggling her commitments is actually quite easy.
“Cheerleading rehearsals are really enjoyable and provide an excellent break from university and work,” she said.
Having just completed a three-year degree in religion and politics, the young cheerleader is now tackling a research thesis on how traditional religion is responding to contemporary cultural practices.
“It is a really interesting subject and I am looking forward to finishing my thesis,” she said.
As for the stereotype, Chelsea herself is proof that there is not much truth to it.
“I am glad to be breaking the stereotype, because in truth, what is the point of a stereotype if not to be broken? All the girls here are very smart and well rounded and besides, it’s not all about the dancing and performances,” she said.
“We have lots of opportunities to get involved in the community through charities. We wear pink in support of breast cancer research and the Jane McGrath Foundation. We have also gone to hospitals and charity events to cheer up sick and disabled children which is a really rewarding experience.”
The Panthers will be looking for new recruits this year and Chelsea’s advice to cheerleader hopefuls is to “practice your dancing and enjoy the trials”.
Cheerleading trials will be held at the EVAN Theatre on Sunday, January 29 starting at 10am. Call Panthers for more details.