John Uehling likes to work a crowd. In high school, he did it from inside his school’s tiger mascot uniform, but at MU he took center stage in a cheerleader’s black and gold.
“Being a cheerleader, you learn how to talk to people,” Uehling said. “People will just come up to you randomly and ask you questions about what you do. I’m a lot more at ease with talking to people I don’t know.”
Uehling arrived at MU with no background in cheerleading but was interested in what the team did. He talked with someone on the team and tried out at the end of his freshman year. He did not make it but was invited to attend practice in the fall to watch and hone his skills.
At 6 feet tall and 255 pounds, Uehling was prepared to take a spot at the bottom of the pyramid when a cheerleader on the volleyball team quit in the middle of Uehling’s sophomore year.
In the beginning, Uehling said he thought cheerleading would just be a fun activity, but it’s turned into much more. Twice a week, Uehling practices for three hours with his teammates, who are some of his best friends.
“I can’t imagine being here at Mizzou and not being a cheerleader,” Uehling said. “I don’t know what I’d be doing today if I weren’t cheering.” He has cheered at football and men’s basketball games for two years.
A senior, Uehling is majoring in biological sciences and plans to graduate in May 2006, at which point he wants to go on to medical school.
“It was a little sad, you know, for the season to be done and for my cheering career to be over,” Uehling said. “I’m counting my last game as the (basketball game) against Kansas. If there’s any way to go out, it’s with a win against KU.”