Most cheerleaders and dancers join a team at a young age just looking for a hobby or an afterschool activity. But after years of practicing, conditioning, long game days, and competition weekends, these athletes look back on the hours spent with their teammates and realize that cheer and dance taught them a lot more than just the skills they learned on the mat.
Cheer and dance teaches athletes hard work, dedication, accountability, and many more life lessons that will stick with them long after their days on the sidelines are done.
This summer, Varsity TV is catching up with current and former college athletes, coaches, and staff instructors to find out why they love cheer and dance and to learn about the lessons they learned throughout their careers.
Meet Christian Vias!
Christian Vias is from Castle Rock, Colorado where he started cheering at 16 years old. He cheered at Douglas County High School where he won the Colorado State Cheer Championship in 2011 and placed 3rd at the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship.
After high school, he then went on to attend school at Shelton State Community College, where he cheered for two years, before cheering at Morehead State University for three years. Vias graduated with a B.S. in Strategic Communications and ended his collegiate career with UCA National Championships that he won in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
After graduating college Vias went on to be the Assistant Cheerleading Coach at the University of Cincinnati and then in February of 2020 he became the Spirit Coordinator and Head Cheerleading Coach at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He has also been teaching at the high school and college level for UCA for 9 years and was a part of their Core Staff this summer.
Christian's Favorite Cheer Memory:
My favorite memory of cheer was in 2016 at UCA College Nationals when Morehead won 3 National Championships. It is such a cliche to say your favorite memory is a win but that year was such an emotional win for myself and the whole program.
That was the only year that my mom was not able to watch me compete due to health complications and at every practice and performance I wrote my mom's name on my tape as a dedication to her. Once they had announced us winning I was at a complete loss and with all our friends and family there, all I could think about was my mom and how much it was a great way to end a weekend.
When did you know you wanted to make cheer your career?
I knew I wanted to make my career cheerleading when I got to see the look on the faces of athletes when they achieved their goals. There is nothing that describes watching people hit a new skill and the pure joy that they radiate.
"No desk job could ever bring me what I am able to achieve in life right now and that's why I chose this career."
How do you think your time as an athlete has helped you in your current role?
My time as an athlete helped me in so many different ways. I learned from the best coaches from high school to college cheer, to the UCA College circuits. Being able to listen to the way they breakdown skills and help teach has made me a much better coach.
What life lessons do you think you've learned from cheer?
I really have been fortunate enough to learn a lot of lessons that I have picked up as an athlete. The one that really sticks out to me is how nothing is going to be perfect. It is strange thinking, but it helped me really learn to roll with the punches no matter what gets thrown at you.
When you shoot for perfection but also prepare for anything to happen, it helps you know that you can achieve anything that might get in your way.
Why would you encourage someone to try out for cheer?
Cheer really helped me find a place that I could get away from anything that may have been going on in life. It is also one of the few team activities out there where you usually only get one shot at a performance and so it helps teach you to believe in your team and yourself.
Knowing that you can rely on other teammates in the middle of the routine is something truly incredible.
If you could give a young athlete one piece of advice, what would it be?
In everything that you do truly continue to grow and learn. I have been fortunate enough to call the most talented people my best friends and every single time that I'm with them I still learn and become better from that even a decade later.
"The day that you stop learning is the day that you stop growing and plateau, so even when it's difficult, keep growing and you will become way better than you can imagine."