Laura Effling

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

True to tradition, one of SDSU’s most bubbly and vivacious women, Laura Effling, is a co-captain of the cheerleading squad. Effling is many of the things a person would expect a cheerleader to be: beautiful, fun, happy and talkative. But, beyond that, she deviates from cheerleading stereotypes; she is also smart, driven and passionate.

A double major from Artesian, S.D., Effling has been a cheerleader since seventh grade. Now in her second year of cheering at SDSU, Effling is a junior studying both Broadcast Journalism and Spanish.

Although Effling has interests outside of school and cheering, she has to cope with the classic challenge that all college athletes face – lack of time.

With practice three nights a week Effling says,”It’s hard to do too much, because I have to support myself.”

She has a job as an assistant in the undergraduate nursing department. Unlike other schools in our division or state, SDSU does not provide scholarships to the cheerleaders, even captains like Effling, making Effling’s attempts to support herself even more difficult.

“We do have a budget with the Athletic Department for uniforms, but we don’t get scholarships,” Effling says.

Effling says our cheerleaders don’t cheer because they want money.

“We do it for ourselves,” Effling said. “We do it because we love it. Some of us have done it so long that it would be so hard to give it up.”

Although no one on SDSU’s squad has ever been seriously injured while performing, new limitations were recently put on stunts. The controversial stunting limitations cause a bit of frustration for Effling.

“We are limited in our stunting to no basket tossing and no pyramids over two and a half people high,” she says. “It is frustrating because I did those things in high school and from high school to college a person is supposed to level up. It was almost like taking a step back.”

Effling grew up on a farm, and while her dad and brother did most of the work, she remembers always being outside when she was young.

“Letting me drive the tractor was probably the worst mistake they ever made,” Effling says with a giggle. “I just wasn’t very good at it.”

Describing herself as “the baby” of the family, Effling says that she has two older sisters and an older brother.

Effling is close to her family members and her parents come up to see her in every game.

“I am a daddy’s girl because I’m the baby,” Effling says. “But, I’d say I’m closer to my mom. We talk a couple of times a week.”

Even with her busy schedule Effling has found time to read recreationally.

“The last book I read was called Jemima J,” she says. “I also recently read a great book called Into Thin Air about a climbing expedition to Mt. Everest.”

If Effling had enough money to do anything she wanted she says she would travel. “I would just go all over the world and keep meeting new people and seeing new places.”

Effling says she thinks she has really been lucky to have had an opportunity to travel and that those experiences have been some of the best of her life.

“I studied in Ecuador for a month,” Effling says. “We would have class from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and every weekend we had little trips planned for us. One weekend we hiked a volcano.”

One of the hardest transitions Effling has had to make in her life was coming to SDSU.

“It was a tough decision to transfer,” she says. “I went to UNL and I loved it, but I couldn’t afford it anymore. I knew in the long run it wasn’t worth it,” she says, “It was hard here at first, but then I started cheering and I got busy. I’ve adjusted and now I love it here too.”

Effling has been confronted with the idea that cheerleading isn’t a sport and she thinks it should be considered one.

“I don’t think people know that it requires so much athleticism and skill,” she says. “We’re on a lifting program, like any other sport, and it requires technique to do what we do. Stunting is a complex process.”

Even if a person doesn’t consider cheerleading a sport, Effling thinks cheerleaders deserve respect as athletes.

“I’d love for anyone who thinks it isn’t a sport to come to practice with us and see how hard it really is.”

Like a lot of SDSU students Effling’s future is somewhat uncertain. But she is excited about her prospects.

“I don’t know where … what exactly I want to pursue. TV or teaching Spanish. I want to live abroad for a few years and I get really excited about that.”