It's a cold winter morning in the middle of February as the members of the Arizona Pomline squad stand adjacent to Arizona Stadium. The clock has just hit 6:45 a.m., and as they await a bus to take them to march in the Annual Tucson Rodeo Parade, the dozen or so who are present are raring to go, pom-poms in hand and smiles draped across their faces.
"It takes mostly just a lot of dedication and time management," said junior pommie Jen Frantzen. "We don't have much free time at all."
Free time or not, this collection of 16 talented performers doesn't just seem to dabble in a little bit of everything ÷ it's more like a lot of everything.
With a performance season lasting nearly the entire school year, the Pomline members seem to consistently keep their schedules full ÷ from the stage to the hardwood and the gridiron to the classroom ÷ while never letting their school spirit fall.
Without the luxury of being backed by the UA athletics department, the only type of scholarships these women see are for their efforts in the classroom. The under-appreciated collection of student-athletes relies solely on its own fund-raising efforts, forcing the group to pay for everything from competition travel to getting its own uniforms ÷ costumes the team members designed on their own. The team's pom-poms alone cost close to $800 as well.
It goes without saying that aside from the likes of sports stars Bobby Wade, Luke Walton or Jason Gardner, these blue-spandex clad athletes are arguably the most entertaining sights at UA's marquee sporting events.
"We all just want to be appreciated," said Hall about playing up the crowd at football or basketball games. "Sometimes it seems like we practice as much as the athletic teams. It's a lot of hard work, but it's all worth it."
That dedication to their craft stems further for these women than just the floor of McKale Center. While being a major source of support for one of the nation's most successful athletics programs, along with consistently staying among the most visible groups on campus, the squad is also a nationally recognized competition team.
After winning a national title at the 2002 Untied Spirit Association college dance team championships, the group placed a respectable sixth this past February in Las Vegas.
While each of the team members agrees that they should have probably placed higher, the women have stayed proud of their efforts after spending the better part of three months choreographing their competition routines ÷ on top of strengthening routines with the UA marching and pep bands for home football and basketball games.
"We're a team just like the others," Eng added. "We give each other support and if we have any problems we talk them out. We all have confidence and rely on each other."
While dancing may be their passion, these women still know that it's just a small part of why they are at the UA, even if it takes up so much of their time.
Sophomore Shawna Kerkemeyer is pre-business sophomore. Freshman Ellen Hall is dance major, while sophomore Dorothy Schafer puts her focus on theatre arts. Co-captain Erica Eng and Frantzen, both juniors, are studying business in the highly-competitive Eller College, on top of their Pomline duties.
"We work hard on things besides just dancing," Shafer said. "We're really just normal college students, we just get to have a lot of fun at the same time."