Cheer is His Sport

Marlon Sanders is from Baldwyn Mississippi, but attended Saltillo School District. While at Saltillo High Sanders took on a ton of different sports such as basketball, football, track and field, and baseball. Sanders wanted to play football more than anything at the next level. From his freshman to senior year he would work on improving at the running back position so he could excel. Sanders at 5’7 wasn’t getting a lot of attention because of his height, but he knew he had the heart. “My sophomore year I kind of began to realize I needed to do something else, but I didnt want to just give up on football.” Sanders saw that some of his friends were on the cheer squad and it somewhat caught his attention so he tried out and made the team. He saw that it was more than just cheering, but as an opportunity to excel at the next level in case football didn’t work out. By the time his senior year came he still wanted to play football so he tried to walk on at Itawamba Community College and he made the spring practice, but wasn’t able to play in the fall so his back up plan was to cheer and the rest was history. Sanders competitively cheered at Saltillo High School and won a championship and started making connections from there. At ICC he cheered for the Indians football, basketball, and baseball teams and became a leader in just his freshman year. His second year at ICC he was a captain and going into the end of his sophomore year he wanted to attend the University of Memphis to cheer, but he always wanted to be on a huge SEC field whether it be for football or cheer. He tried out at Ole Miss and made the team and realized his dream was about to become a reality. Cheer became what football was to him and he had a new found love for his sport. Sanders argues that cheer is a sport because the competitions they have are intense and they work and train just as athletes do. Sanders said that his first year at Ole Miss was a blast simply because he felt the love that he always wanted from people. “I used to think that people only wanted to be around the athlete, but since I’ve been here (Ole Miss) people come up to me and want to take pictures with me, I’m still on the field or court right by the athletes, and there are plenty of girls.” Sanders gets up 3 times out of the week to workout in the morning and has team practice later in the afternoon each day; just as athletes have to workout and practice, he and the rest of the cheerleaders do the same things. Sanders is also a part of the UCA cheer staff which is the Universal Cheerleaders Association and he gets to travel to different states each summer to cheer with different high school cheerleaders and help them become better athletes. He says it is tough having to do so many repetitive moves and stunts day in and out because at the competition there is only one time to get it right and to hit your stunts so that pressure is one of the most challenging things he finds in the sport; but he embraces it and steps up to the task. Sanders is in his last year of college which means his cheer career is slowly coming to an end because he doesn’t desire to be a professional cheerleader. Even though Covid-19 is effecting his last year of cheer he is still making the best of it so he can have the memories of a lifetime.

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