For many, cheering at the collegiate level is out of the question. Is graduating high school the end of the road for those who eat, sleep and breathe cheerleading? The answer is no, thanks to VOLStars.
VOLStars is an on-campus recreational cheerleading organization that helps students continue pursuing their passion for cheerleading.
Alexandria Calhoun, founder of the organization, stresses the importance of giving students a channel for expressing their cheerleading abilities.
"I wanted to provide another outlet for girls and/or guys, if they want to, to be able to continue to do what they love, if they couldn't do it for the school team," said Calhoun, senior in supply chain management. "It's one of my passions, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to cheer here in college."
Calhoun is currently president, founder, coach and choreographer. She founded the group her sophomore year. Betsy Cherian, junior in electrical engineering, also assists with the squad.
"We give people the opportunity to still express their love for cheerleading without it being as strenuous," Cherian said.
Calhoun formed VOLStars to make an impact on campus, and to leave behind an organization as a legacy that would let students continue to partake in the sport that they love.
"How can I provide a way for me to still do what I love and to leave a legacy on this campus, to change or to enhance this campus, to bring something different to this campus?" Calhoun asked. "Because I know there are different organizations, but there hasn't been anything related to cheerleading other than the cheerleading team."
VOLStars stands out among typical cheerleading organizations, Calhoun explained. These cheerleaders do not do the usual sideline type cheering. They perform routines more akin to competitive cheerleading.
"We don't actually cheer like 'go team go,'" Calhoun said. "We do all-star style routines, which include a dance, stunting and tumbling."
They also do not perform at typical cheerleading events, instead performing at events held by other organizations on campus. They have performed at an intermission during Kappa Alpha Psi's annual Miss Krimson and Kreme pageant. The squad has also participated in Showtime, the annual showcase that is part of the JUMP overnight visit program held by Minority Enhancement for the University of Tennessee.
Calhoun said VOLStars tries to do an event a semester, so the team is not overwhelmed.
"More than one would be a lot, and I know school comes first," Calhoun said.
Destiny Sirivong, junior in marketing, said that becoming part of VOLStars has worked as an escape from the stress of college and given her an opportunity to establish a sense of belonging.
"What I've enjoyed about VOLstars is the friendships that I've made within the team, and I love how I can use VOLStars as my stress reliever," Sirivong said. "Sometimes the stresses of school are so overwhelming, but when I go to practice, it makes me completely forget about it."
There are currently 10 girls on the squad, but Calhoun said she hopes to bring their numbers up to 16 after the upcoming tryouts.
"I'm always looking for new girls," Calhoun said. "I do impromptu tryouts during the school year if it's enough time before performances."
There are no specific requirements to try out for VOLStars. Tryouts will be held Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the University Center's Crest Room.