Presgrove living the dream with OU cheer squad
By Kyle Salomon
When Taylor Presgrove earned a spot on the University of Oklahoma cheerleading team as a sophomore, the last thing she could picture happening was becoming the captain as a senior.
Two years later, that’s exactly where she sits. Presgrove is the cheer captain on this year’s OU cheerleading team that performs during OU athletic events such as football, basketball and wrestling.
Presgrove is a 2010 Mustang High School graduate. She has lived in Mustang all of her life and she started cheering at a young age. She knew that’s what she wanted to do from day one.
“I started cheering when I was in sixth grade,” Presgrove said. “It was the first year I was in middle school, and it was the first year we were allowed to cheer. I had done gymnastics since I was little, like 4, and I got tired of doing that, so I switched to cheer. It was a little bit easier and less hard on the body.”
Most cheerleaders who are serious about the sport will join a select team or gym and compete in state and national competitions as they grow up. Presgrove was no different.
The Mustang native joined Tribe Cheer in Oklahoma City when she first started competing competitively. She then switched to Twist and Shout in Edmond for her competitive cheer as well as school cheer for Mustang.
Presgrove participated in competitive cheer into her high school years, but stopped her senior year at Mustang.
When Presgrove made the switch from gymnastics to cheerleading, she said it was an easy decision at the time.
“I really liked tumbling,” she said. “I had gotten pretty good at it doing gymnastics, and it was a lot of fun. But then gymnastics takes way too much time. I would be there after school until around 10 p.m. Even when I was in grade school I would do that. We would have a competition every weekend.
“I didn’t have much of a social life, and I knew cheer wouldn’t take up as much of my time and I could still have the tumbling aspect with it so I made the switch.”
As she was growing up, Presgrove wasn’t afraid to try new things. She said she always welcomed new and fun activities to try.
Presgrove gave horseback riding a shot a couple of times, she went to numerous different types of art classes, she got into photography for a while and she would swim a lot and played a lot of golf.
In her freshman year at MHS, Presgrove was on the golf team for the Bronco girls.
“I liked cheer, but I wanted to do everything else as well, so I wanted to try everything I could,” Presgrove said. “So I had a lot of hobbies growing up. I wanted to experience everything as much as I could.”
Presgrove said she was an OU fan growing up and when she was in high school, she and her father would go to the OU football games. She said the whole time during the games she would always watch the cheerleaders.
“I always told myself I wanted to do that,” she said. “I knew I wanted to stand on the sidelines at OU football games and be a part of the cheerleading team. My dad would always tell me to watch the game, but I just wanted to watch the cheerleaders.”
Despite being an OU fan all of her life and wanting nothing more than to be a cheerleader on the Sooners cheer squad, Presgrove earned a full-ride cheerleading scholarship to Oklahoma City University. She accepted the scholarship and went to be a part of the OCU cheer team her freshman year in college.
The itch to be an OU cheerleader and OCU not having football was too much for Presgrove as she decided to make the switch from OCU to OU her sophomore year.
However, the decision to transfer to OU was only the first step toward her dream of becoming an OU cheerleader. The next hill to climb was to make the squad.
Presgrove had been going to auditions for the OU cheer squad since she was a junior in high school. She said she had a friend who was a year older that was trying out as well, so Presgrove decided to go with her and put her name in the hat for a couple years down the road.
Once a month Presgrove would go down to Norman to participate in auditions where they would learn cheers from the OU cheer team and would put their tumbling skills on display for the OU coaches to see.
The Oklahoma cheer coaches would keep track of each girl practicing in the auditions. If they liked what they saw, they would invite the girls to tryouts. There would be roughly 150 girls at the auditions and only around 50 would get called back to tryouts.
“The year that I tried out we had a three-day tryout,” Presgrove said. “The first day we just learned a bunch of different routines and we would show it back to the coaches, and then there was one cut. Each day there was a cut and if you make it through the three days without getting cut, you’re on the team.
“It was a fun process, but it was so nerve-racking. I was really scared. Even around the audition time I couldn’t eat because I was so nervous. It’s not only how good you are, but how you look as well. The coaches wouldn’t just judge you based on your ability, they would judge your looks, too.”
After tryouts last year the girls voted individually on who they wanted to be the captain on the squad. Once the votes are in, the coaches will take the girls with the highest amount of votes and bring them in for an interview. After the interviews the coaches make the decision on who will be the captain starting with the new football season.
The OU coaches decided to name Presgrove the cheer squad captain for the 2013-2014 academic year.
“I was so excited,” she said. “Our coach sat the three of us down who were up for captain and told us that I was captain and the other two girls were co-captains. I called my dad right away and told him and he was really excited, which made me even more excited. It was really awesome.
“There is not that many captains in OU cheer history, so to be a part of that group is a real honor.”
Presgrove said her time on the OU cheer squad has been full of memorable experiences, but none will compare to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans when Oklahoma defeated Alabama.
“Oh yeah, the Sugar Bowl, there is no question,” she said. “It was my last football game to cheer and to win against Alabama was the best way to go out.”
Fellow Mustang 2010 graduate Bronson Irwin played a major role as a starting offensive lineman in the Sooners’ success this year and their victory over the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.
Presgrove said she ran to find Irwin after the game was over.
“I finally found him and I ran and jumped on him,” she said. “It was such an awesome experience. It’s hard to really put into words because we are both from Mustang and to get to experience something like that was just really awesome. It was the last OU football game for the both of us to be a part of so to go out like that was really special.”
Presgrove is scheduled to graduate in December of this year with a bachelor’s degree in administrative leadership. She plans on doing pharmaceutical sales when she is done with school.
When asked to describe herself in one word, Presgrove took a minute to think about the question.
“Loving,” she said. “I’m a loving person. I love my family and friends and I absolutely love everything that I do. I think that is the one word that would describe me the best.”
You can reach Kyle Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org