Sept. 27, 2010
Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
When the Panthers score a touchdown or the basketball team knocks down a basket, Candace Cliatt and the GSU cheerleaders are on the sidelines pumping up the crowd.
Cliatt is one of two captains and the only senior on the GSU cheerleading team.
“I get to be a part of a university with a first football team, the first marching band and the cheer squad. It’s really history in the making right now and I like being a part of that,” Cliatt said.
Cliatt started cheering for the All-Star Cheerleading Squad in the 8th grade. For three years, she competed in competitions across the country almost every weekend of the school year. She went on to cheer at Sandy Creek High School and Clark Atlanta University before transferring to Georgia State.
“It actually helped me because it brought me out of my shell,” she said. “I used to be really timid so it really was a confidence booster. It was also the foundation for many of my friendships.”
Besides displaying GSU spirit and enthusiasm, performing stunts and tumbling are an integral part of being on the GSU team, Cliatt said. Among the requirements to make the team are being able to display various tumbling and dance skills. The 32 member cheer team practices three to five days a week, as well as training on strength and conditioning.
“As a captain I make sure we are on track and everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do, and not wasting valuable practice time,” Cliatt said. “Being on the cheer team takes patience, commitment, dedication and really discipline. You use a lot of skills you don’t learn over night.”
Georgia State’s cheerleading team is the only Division 1 university in Georgia who all receive scholarship assistance. The team competes annually in the National Cheerleading Association’s Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla., and has placed in the Top 10 for two of the past three years.
Cliatt loves to cheer, but she admits she has never considered her self to be the average cheerleader.
“I never had the build to be a cheerleader, but it was something that I wanted to do and something I eventually got really good at,” she said.
And Cliatt, who is majoring in English, isn’t just good at cheering. She’s also an Honor’s student with a 3.8 G.P.A. She also enjoys pageants and is currently Miss Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity for the 2010 year.
“I want to go to law school. I want to help people and be in a position to effect change,” she said.
Brooke Svoboda, GSU’s head cheerleading coach, says although Cliatt is one of the quieter members on the cheer team, she understands the value of teamwork and strives to be a role model.
“As a captain, I know I can depend on her,” Svoboda said. “She leads by example and is one of the most respected members of my team. The team goes to her when they have problems and she listens attentively to each member.”