OSU cheer coach James Underwood talks on taking his team to the Las Vegas Bowl Game


Lily Middleton

Cheer coach James Underwood during a practice session in Winter of 2022

Georgina Paez, Assistant Sports Editor

As the OSU football team heads to Las Vegas to play in the bowl game, they will not be going without their trusted entourage: the cheer team.

In talking to the head coach of the cheer team, James Underwood, he puts things into perspective for this big opportunity for the cheer team. “Being in the PAC-12, every game is a big deal,” James explains. “But when we do these nationally, broadcast games, for us, it elevates it a little bit more. For us to be at Allegiant Stadium this year is pretty cool because we’re seeing something like one of the premier stadiums in the country.”

One of the big things the team is looking forward to is cheering alongside the University of Florida cheerleaders, whom they don’t see as often as they do other teams in the PAC-12. “We’ll be doing battle of the bands with them and will see them at several of the lead-up events,” James elaborates. “For us, there’s a camaraderie that just naturally happens between the spirit squads. But there’s also a little bit of competitiveness because it’s a clashing of styles from the West Coast with us and them being on the east coast. So that’s always fun for our athletes as well.”

While having the team travel to the bowl game is a big honor for the cheer team, it did come with a price. Due to budgeting, only 24 out of the 44 cheerleaders are traveling to the bowl game. This means James and the cheerleaders are working without the whole team there: “It forces us to be creative,” James explains. “When we’re in Reser stadium, we’re in full force. We’re the full dance team and cheer team; we’re at full strength. “But it gives us the opportunity to choose the athletes that we think deserve the opportunity. Maybe the fourth-year seniors, maybe some who have never traveled to something like this. But then also, we want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward.”

But no matter the number of cheerleaders going or no matter the stadium they perform at, the morale and spirit of the team never change. A special tradition that the team has done for every game will continue this Saturday. “One of the things that we preach is the 10-5-1 rule. 10 fan interactions that we want every team member to try their best to have because I feel like that’s what makes Beaver Nation special. Is that community,” James says. “The five is the opportunity to show appreciation. For the fans, and the community. And the 1 is to find a moment that you’re going to really look back on 20 years from now and really say ‘that’s a special moment’.

Tune in on Saturday to watch your OSU Beaver cheer team root for the football team in the Las Vegas Bowl Game.

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