Plenty to Cheer About with Tyngsboro’s Megan Harnum
TYNGSBORO -- When the World Cheerleading Championships get underway in Orlando, Fla., at the end of April, Tyngsboro’s Megan Harnum will be on the floor as a member of the U.S. All-Girl National Cheer Team.
Competitive cheering has been part of Harnum’s life since she was 5 years old. She watched her big sister Christina, who was 9 at the time, practicing and wanted to do it, too.
“She taught me tumbling, and I progressed really fast,” Harnum said.
She soon started training at East Celebrity Elite cheer gym in Tewksbury, where she developed her skills and competed for 13 years before heading off to college. She was twice an All-Star World Champion while at that gym.
She’s a graduate of Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, N.H., where she was a varsity cheerleader. It was her first experience on school cheering squad. Up until then, her experience was entirely with competitive cheering.
The difference between competitive cheering and high school cheering team is substantial. Harnum describes “high intensity” workouts with weight lifting and running as part of competitive cheering. “The crazy stunts in competitive cheering aren’t something you’ll see on the field,” she says.
When it came time for college, she found options limited here in the Northeast. So she headed for University of Alabama where she is a sophomore majoring in accounting and cheering on the Crimson Tide varsity teams.
Her interest in competitive cheering, however, led her and a number of other young women from the Alabama squad to head for the January tryouts. They trained for months for that event.
Other members of the All-Girl National cheer team are from Southern or Western universities. Programs at universities in these regions is ahead of other regions and Harnum wanted to be in a top program. She fell in love with the Alabama campus and decided the school was a good fit for her.
Asked what she would like to say to those skeptical of cheerleading as a sport (it is under consideration as a possible Olympic event), Harnum says, “It’s nothing that people would expect. We’re athletes and we want to compete like the other athletes.”
The event in Florida is under the auspices of the International Cheer Union, the governing body for Harnum’s sport.