Cheerleader Moreno juggles academics, cheering and the new normal

Carmelita Moreno, a junior and Grovetown High School product, and Augustus work an AU basketball game in the holiday season. (photo by AU Athletics)

By Taylor Ferguson |
Sports writer

Not only is Carmelita Moreno a junior health, society and policy major who is minoring in Spanish, but she is also a cheerleader for Augusta University.

Moreno has an extensive history of cheerleading—eight years’ worth. Her cheerleading journey began when she joined Grovetown Middle School’s cheer team. Her love continued and further developed as she became captain of Grovetown High School’s cheer team during her senior year. Later, she attended Augusta Cheer Academy for two years to gain experience in tumbling.

This is Moreno’s third year cheering for Augusta University. Her position on the AU team includes being a back spot but also a side base. She said that her favorite part of cheering are game days.

“I love hanging out with my team, cheering on the sidelines, and doing the stunting and dancing during timeouts,” Moreno said.

Although she possesses a deep love for cheering, she also says that it’s challenging. For Moreno, the greatest challenge is time management. She explains that being a student-athlete can become difficult at times because she is juggling her school work while also making time to attend practices, which can last for hours.

She goes on to state that learning new stunts can also be difficult; not because it is hard, but because it can be challenging.

Carmelita Moreno outside Christenberry Fieldhouse. (photo by AU Athletics)

“It’s a challenge I love to take so I can perfect a stunt,” she said. “I love learning new things and being able to get it right.”

Moreno has seen the major impact of COVID-19 on the cheer team and the season overall. Last semester, the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the team’s season to end early. To prevent the team from falling behind schedule with recruiting, the team decided to have virtual tryouts via video submission.

The cheerleaders have not had face-to-face practices because of the effects of coronavirus are still very prominent. If and when the Jag cheerleaders perform in the spring, Moreno said that the team will take precautions by limiting how many cheerleaders can actually cheer and by socially distancing between all of them.

Lastly, the team will no longer be able to stunt because that might increase the spread of the virus.

Clint Bryant, the AU athletics director, said he hopes to have the team cheer during Peach Belt Conference home games.

“We are not having any participation by cheer or dance until PBC games begin on Jan. 6, and we will have eight home contest,” he said. “It is our hope to include cheer and dance at that time along with a limited fan base. It will all depend on institutional directives on whether we are safe to proceed after the first of the year.”

Bryant also said the cheerleaders will not be allowed on the floor, but will be five rows up in the bleachers and must wear masks. Visiting teams will not bring cheer or dance squads in PBC contests.

 

Contact Taylor Ferguson at TAFERGUSON@augusta.edu.