Pom dancers across various institutions and teams share a common dedication to their craft, showcasing their talents at events while managing the intricate balance between rigorous practices and academic commitments.
One might wonder about the sheer dedication required to be part of a dynamic dance squad. According to Beki Jackson, OSU spirit coordinator and pom coach, each member of OSU Pom invests two hours, three nights a week, in rigorous practice sessions. Members also engage in morning workouts twice a week.
However, their commitment goes beyond the studio, encompassing football games (both home and away), men’s and women’s basketball, as well as wrestling events. Post-season football and basketball commitments further highlight the demanding schedule that defines the life of a pom squad member.
How they manage it all is a balancing act, and time management is the most essential aspect.
“It is important to learn early how to handle academic, physical and mental stress,” Jackson says. “We try to prepare for busy seasons and offer as much help [as we can] during those times. They have access to the Academic Center in Gallagher Iba, a sports nutritionist, sports psychologist and team athletic trainer. We are not only working on the dancer, but their whole person as well. Giving them tools to be successful beyond college is key.”
Tresley Kowalski, a member of Southmoore High School’s pom squad, echoes the sentiment that a hectic schedule is to be expected. She has found specific ways to manage her time.
“Maintaining discipline is crucial for me,” she explains. “I set a screen time limit on social media and aim to go to bed at 9:30 p.m., especially on homework-free nights. My phone is also set to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode before bedtime. Sometimes, I must push through the week with grit and determination.”
While pom and dancing are year-long commitments for Kowalski, she still finds time to spend with her family and engage in activities she loves. Jackson emphasizes the diverse extracurricular engagements of OSU pom squad members as well, ranging from sororities and academic clubs to entrepreneurship opportunities.
While not all aim for professional dance careers, there are always a few who aspire to continue their journey.
“I have one or two a year that wish to try out for a professional dance/cheer team,” Jackson says.
OSU Pom alums have made significant strides in the professional arena, representing the program and university with distinction. Notable successes include appearances at the Super Bowl and being selected as a Pro Bowl cheerleader, exemplifying the squad’s enduring impact on its members’ futures.
For Kowalski, the journey in pom won’t lead to the pros, but her passion is undeniable.
“While I don’t aspire to become a professional dancer, the feeling of stepping on stage, knowing I’ve worked hard to perfect my routines, is truly inspiring,” she shares. “Being surrounded by so many talented individuals, including my coaches, dance instructors, teammates and fellow dancers is a constant source of motivation.”