ROCHELLE — Carly Weiner didn’t want her cheerleading career to end after helping the Rochelle varsity cheerleading squad win the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Championship and qualify for the IHSA State Championships this past school year.
One of several seniors who cheered the Lady Hubs to their first state appearance since the 2009-10 school year, Weiner took her talents to Northern Illinois University, where she qualified for the cheerleading team in May. She’s since traded in Rochelle’s traditional purple and white colors for her new red and black Huskie uniform, but the former Lady Hub said her experience with Northern Illinois has been extremely positive.
“I have really enjoyed my time being a cheerleader for NIU,” Weiner said. “I think my favorite part has been cheering during football games. It’s a really awesome experience to cheer on a field with so many fans in the stands. It’s definitely a whole new atmosphere. I think one of the biggest differences between high school and college cheer would be the amount of people we cheer for.”
Weiner’s interest in cheering for Northern Illinois began when she attended a clinic in February. She was then approached by one of the team members about working out at the team’s open gym sessions before starting her tryout with the Huskies over Cinco De Mayo weekend. She said her skills as a side base have improved significantly since cheering on the Hubs.
“I feel like I have greatly improved as a cheerleader,” Weiner said. “I have learned how to be a more effective side base. I constantly try to better my tumbling during cheerleading and I just got a new tumbling pass so I’m very excited to use that… At Rochelle, we knew almost every face in the stands. But at NIU, we’re lucky to be able to spot our families because there are so many people.”
Weiner was one of several seniors, including Illinois State cheerleader Teddi Hacaga, who helped the Lady Hubs complete one of their most successful cheerleading seasons in recent history this past school year. She said her main adjustment to college cheerleading has been the changes in her normal practice schedule.
“The practice schedule at NIU is very different than it was in high school,” Weiner said. “I currently practice 2-to-3 days per week for three hours each. The practices are held from 7 to 10 p.m. which is much later than what I’m used to. In high school, I got used to having practices either right before or after school. But we can’t do that at NIU since everyone has a different class schedule.”
Weiner and her Huskies teammates will travel to Daytona, Florida in April 2019 to compete at the annual NCA Nationals. Northern Illinois placed second in the competition this past school year, and she said that she and her fellow cheerleaders are looking to bring home the top prize this year.
“Our competitive schedule hasn’t technically started yet but we’ve been working on bettering ourselves since the summer in hopes of fulfilling our goal of winning nationals,” Weiner said.