LARAMIE -- Have you ever wondered the story behind the University of Wyoming’s Spirit Squad?

Who are they? Where are they from? What they do?

The UW Cheerleaders, and Wyoming mascot, Pistol Pete, have a great time supporting UW athletics and showcasing their skills at various sporting events, as well as making appearances throughout the community and all over the great state of Wyoming.

During the football season, 7220sports.com’s DJ Johnson will bring you the segment “Spirit Spotlight," highlighting some of the athletes that make it all happen.

 

Lilli Martin/ UW cheer photo

Name: Lilli Martin

Hometown: Frederick, Colorado

School Year: Senior

Major: Nursing

Spirt Squad Year: Fourth

 

7220sports: After missing -- well, at least being extremely limited in performances in 2020 -- what is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to your feelings about being on the sidelines this upcoming Saturday at War Memorial Stadium?

Lilli: Excited. A lot of what we do is fan interaction, and with COVID, we didn’t get to do that last year. We didn’t even get to see our fans. There was no interaction, there wasn’t any seeing how they were doing, there were no pictures with fans. We just didn’t feel complete. I’m really excited to see all of our fans back in War Memorial on Saturday and have that fan interaction.

 

7220sports: Given the fact that last year was pretty much a wash, what did you personally do to stay busy and maintain your level of commitment and motivation?

Lilli: During that year a lot of us took the time to spend more time in different gyms and spend more time on strength training outside of our regular weight training practices. With that, you could definitely tell that a lot of us were in much better shape and our strength as a team was so much better last year. With all of the restrictions, we had to get creative, so we hit a lot of open gyms, which was awesome because we spent a lot of time stunting and progressing our skills that we often don’t get a chance to spend a whole lot of time on during the regular year because it’s so busy.

 

7220sports: The stress on a Division-I student athlete can be taxing. How do you manage your athletic responsibilities with your academic workload, especially in such a demanding program as nursing?

Lilli: It is definitely a challenge, for sure. I think the most important thing that I do to manage that is to communicate with everyone involved, letting my academic teachers know that I have practice from this time to this time and letting my cheer coaches know what’s going on with my schedule and what I need with nursing. We all work together to create a schedule and ensure that everything is going to work timewise. Right now it’s a little crazy because I have practice from 7-9 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then I have class the same days from 9-11:50, so I’m being allowed to leave a few minutes early from practice so I can walk across campus to get to my class on time. The biggest thing is just taking a deep breath and making sure that you have a very strict schedule and sticking to it. Having a positive attitude, knowing that not everyone gets the opportunity to be a D1 student athlete (is important), so I cherish every stressful moment of it because one day it’ll all be gone.

 

7220sports: What does a typical football game day routine look like for you from the time you wake up until the final game whistle blows?

Lilli: Hectic is one word! Chaotic is another. Typically, we meet four hours before kickoff for every football game. For us girls, we like to give ourselves two-and-a-half hours to get ready in the morning. So, on a gameday -- for a 2 p.m. game -- we’re typically waking up around 7 or 7:30 a.m. to get ready, and then we give ourselves some time to figure out parking before getting to the stadium. Once we get there, the first thing we do is a light warm up, followed by heading over for the Cowboy Walk where we do our whole show and wait for the football players to come out. Once the players pass through us, we head directly into the IPF (Indoor Practice Facility) for 15 minutes where we perform once again. That’s when it becomes our fan interaction time. That’s when we take Pistol Pete, we get to find some kids and take pictures and get to mingle with the fans. But, when those 15 minutes are up, we head back to the Field House for another warm up where we rehearse stunts, gameday routines, timeout routines and then we head out to the field. From there we cheer the entire game. After the game, we usually have a team meeting to discuss how the day went, what we did good, what we could work on, things like that. For football games, we plan on it being a nine-hour day.

 

7220sports: What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of cheer?

Lilli: I’m a big reader. I love to read books, so whenever I have a spare moment, I usually like to find a new book. I also like to run, day-to-day. My teammates get mad at me when I try to lead the pack, but I grew up running track and that has kind of stayed with me through college. I also like to spend a lot of time with family and friends, with those that are really close to me.

 

7220sports: What is the best piece of advice you have received from a coach, mentor or teammate?

Lilli: That one’s a tough one. I think when I was close to a couple of seniors who graduated two years ago, they told me that while it seems hard -- schedules are difficult and you feel stressed -- you’ll never be able to gain experiences like this again so just make every moment count and enjoy being a part of this team. Wyoming is so unique that you just take it all in. It’s sad to think that one day I won’t be doing this anymore. I won’t be able to experience the thrill of a UW football game and everything that comes along with it.

 

7220sports: How important is an athlete’s public image and why is that important to you?

Lilli: It is so important to me. We see tons of kids who are wearing UW cheering uniforms and they come up to us and want to hold our poms or ask us things. It’s so important to have such a good public image because there are so so many people looking up to us. And, we want that. We want them to look up to us as a good group that have a good set of morals who love what we do. We know there are a lot of eyes on us and we want people to view us in the highest regard possible.

 

7220sports: We live in a world where social media influences our daily life. In your opinion, what is one pro and one con of social media as a whole?

Lilli: One pro is being able to stay in contact with people. I have a lot of family across the U.S., and with social media, it allows me to feel that I’m still a part of their daily life somehow and it keeps me informed with what’s going on in their lives. A negative about social media is that there’s an element that you have to be careful of certain aspects because you don’t know how someone will take a post or a tweet. We work on that as a cheer team because everyone sees it. The whole internet can see it once you post. It’s a scary thing because you never want to hurt anyone or come off in a negative way.

 

7220sports: If I gave you two plane tickets to anywhere in the world where would you go, who would you take and why?

Lilli: Hawaii. I would take my 6-year-old sister, Anuhea. She’s my best friend. Hawaii is so great. There’s so much to do out there.

 

7220sports: If you could have dinner with any person -- living or not -- who would it be and why?

Lilli: Aly Raisman, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. I was a gymnast for 16 years and I would love to hear her experiences and how she was able to be a world-class gymnast and balance school at the same time.

 

My favorite food is: seafood

My favorite restaurant in Laramie is: The Library

My favorite thing to wear is: Shorts and a hoodie

My favorite music artist is: Thomas Rhett

My favorite UW football player is: Nothing but love for my uncle, Mike Purcell, and my best friend, Andrew Meredith.

Beach or mountains: Beach

Describe Laramie in five words: Community, loving, safe, small town, fun

One thing I can't live without is: My friends and family

Favorite quote: “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain.” ― Vivian Greene

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