As the spotlights pierce the darkness on Norm Stewart Court, all eyes are on the starting Missouri men’s basketball players.
The announcer’s voice booms as he introduces the lineup. In the shadows of the court, Bryan Allen lifts Ashley McGee and holds her in the air with one hand as Marshall Brown is announced as a starter.
The lights come back on and Allen jogs to the end of the court to sit and rest on one knee for the game. He picks up a black megaphone and begins to yell.
Nothing unusual. Except that Allen, one of two captains for the co-ed cheerleading squad, cheered for over four hours earlier in the day.
The Missouri cheerleaders pulled a rare double duty Saturday. After cheering for the Missouri-Kansas football game, the cheerleaders were at Mizzou Arena supporting the Tigers on the hardwood.
“That’s our job,” Allen, a senior, said. “We got to get people in the game. If we would have lost one, we would have gone into the other one thinking, ‘Hey, we’re going to win this one.’”
Brittany Silverstein, with a sparkly gold ribbon in her black hair and fake Mizzou tattoo on her right cheek, doesn’t mind cheering for both games. In fact, she even ranked her earlier appearance cheering at the football game as one of her favorite games she has ever cheered at.
“It was definitely an exciting game,” she said. “I was really excited for the all the seniors to get to beat KU because they haven’t beat KU in three years.”
But don’t think the cheerleaders were without rest. Silverstein, who is also a captain, said that after the football game she got to go home and recuperate for the next game.
“We had like two and a half hours inbetween so we went home and ordered pizza and fell asleep for like 45 minutes before we came back here,” Silverstein, a junior, said. “It was a good power nap, ready to go and finish up the day.”
Silverstein and Allen said it wasn’t hard to keep the spirit up at the football game, where the rivalry created the spirit. At basketball games, especially ones with a lower attendance, such as Saturday’s game against Stephen F. Austin, their jobs as cheerleaders become a little more important.
“It’s probably a little bit harder,” Allen said, “because there’s not going to be nearly as many people so we will have to yell a lot more and get the crowd into it.”
Silverstein said she likes football better, but that basketball is fun to watch with Missouri coach Mike Anderson’s quick playing style. She said watching a football game isn’t exactly easy for a cheerleader.
“We can’t really watch football,” she said, “especially when the team is on the other side, we couldn’t really see if we wanted to. But basketball, we’re like, right there.”
During a timeout in the second half, Allen becomes the base for the Diamond Head pyramid. Standing tall on his shoulders is another cheerleader, who holds the arms of two other cheerleaders suspended in the air, who are also supported from the side by Allen. For a stunt like this, Allen can have over 300 pounds on his shoulders as he spins in a slow circle.
After the basketball game, Allen said he was tired and ready for sleep, but he wan’t bemoaning the long day and his nearly six hours of cheering.
“It was a lot of fun and we won both games so it was a good day,” Allen said.