The years of hard work and countless hours of sacrifice have paid dividends for 2010 Bob Jones High graduate Brooklyn Bradley. The 20-year old is currently on scholarship as a member of the University of Alabama Co-Ed Cheerleading squad for the Tide’s football and basketball programs.
“It’s exciting and lots of fun to be a part of such a great tradition here at Alabama,” said Bradley. “Though I do get nervous in front of large home crowds as the squad wants to do our best for the crowd.”
At the four-day tryouts in May, Bradley, who transferred to the Capstone after cheering at Wallace State for two years, lasted through several cuts from the original 100 cheerleader wannabes. The tryouts included three days of skills clinics utilizing male partners and the last day of routine performances.
Once the tryouts were complete, she waited for the final selections postings that were to be taped to the doors of the Memorial Coliseum. Her mother and stepfather joined her in the anticipation as they sat watching her boyfriend, Chaze Otwell, at the University’s baseball field located next to the Coliseum.
After nervously waiting, for what seemed like an eternity, they saw the postings and hurriedly made their way from their seats at the baseball field to the doors of the Coliseum.
“I was very happy and somewhat surprised to see my name among those few chosen to be members of the Alabama Cheer Squad,” said Bradley. “There were a lot of good girls and tough competition in the tryouts.”
Gymnastics To Cheerleading
The daughter of Mitch Bradley and Diane Henry and stepfather Todd Henry, Brooklyn began cheerleading as a seventh grader at Discovery Middle School after some encouragement from her friends. She had been in gymnastics from a young age, but cheerleading was different.
She made the squad at Discovery, but admitted it took a while to get used to the new sport. After two years at Discovery, Bradley became a member of the elite cheer squad at Bob Jones where she was a member of four national championship squads.
She added, “I love the competition cheerleading. Learning the routines and seeing results from all of the hard work.”
Trust In Partner
At Alabama, Bradley, a junior, is teamed with her male partner, Clay Woods, who was a male cheerleader at Sparkman High. The two have known one another for years through workouts in gymnastics at Tumblebeez Gym.
“He’s a sophomore and was on the cheer squad here at Alabama last year,” said Bradley, speaking from her off campus apartment where she lives with two roommates who also attended school at Bob Jones. “Clay has helped me from the experience stand point of being an Alabama cheerleader. He’s great on doing our stunts together.”
Being a female cheerleader on a co-ed squad, Bradley is held high in the air during some stunts and many times free falls during those stunts. She admits trust in Woods is a big factor in being able to perform well.
“It helps that I’ve known him and we used to play around with stunts at Tumblebeez,” said Bradley, who stands 5-foot-1 and weighs 110-pounds. “We have spotters for us during practices, but it’s just us on the sidelines during games.”
As an Alabama cheerleader, you travel to all of the games, like the one the Crimson Tide opened the season with in Dallas, TX. versus the Michigan Wolverines. With practices occurring almost daily, the squad makes its way to the games, both home and away, two hours prior to kickoff. The squad is a part of most of the festivities surrounding the games, such as the “Walk of Champions” and the “Elephant Stomp”, which features players and fans.
“It’s like a pep rally most of the time and we’re the goodwill ambassadors for the school at these events,” said Bradley. “On the sidelines we try and keep our fans in the game. At the completion of the games, we mingle with the crowd, sign autographs and have our photos taken with members of the crowd. Having young girls with their mothers come up to me and want their photos taken with me is great. These little girls look up to us. Makes me proud to be where I am.”
Stay With It
Bradley, who is studying criminal justice and psychology, attributes much of her success to being a cheerleader at Bob Jones under the guidance of one time cheer coach Tara Murphy. She also stated her many years of gymnastics was a big plus, too. But she admitted there was one person who really made the difference in her life as a cheerleader.
“My mother. She was always my rock when I needed one,” said Bradley. “She always told me to stay with it. Don’t quit. There were many nights, while at Bob Jones, I would come home after practice wanting to quit.”
Bradley’s advice to young girls and boys in cheerleading: “Stay with it. It will pay off in the end. I’m glad I didn’t quit. I’m an Alabama cheerleader and part of the No. 1 program in the country.”