The first Egyptian pyramids were constructed in the 27th century B.C. along the mighty Nile River. As recently as last month, Princeton cheerleading constructed pyramids of the human variety along the sidelines of Powers Field. For the past three years, junior Macy Manning has been a member of the cheer squad. We at The Daily Princetonian had a chance to sit down with the Fayetteville, Ark., native to discuss her craft and her ideal deserted island.
The Daily Princetonian: Where are you from and what’s the best part about being from there?
Macy Manning: I’m from Fayetteville, Ark. It’s a big Southern college town. The best part about being from “Fayville” is that it’s the home of the Razorbacks. We’re big on college football. And despite what people think, in Arkansas, we do wear shoes and I do have all my teeth. Just wanted to dispel that misconception from the beginning.
DP: Not asking you to speak for all Arkansans, but who, would you say, is your state’s favorite son: Sam Walton, Johnny Cash or Bill Clinton?
MM: Definitely Bill Clinton, especially after being up here. The first response that I usually get when I say I’m from Arkansas is usually, “Oh, Bill Clinton!” He’s pretty much the only person people remember.
DP: Have you noticed particular differences between people on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line?
MM: I’ve gotta be careful here. I think the biggest difference is just the pace. It feels like here, everybody’s more rushed and always has somewhere to be. But down south, people like to slow it down. And I don’t want to offend anyone, but manners are more emphasized back home.
DP: What drew you to Princeton?
MM: I applied to a bunch of different schools, but, ultimately, visiting here I fell in love with the campus. Plus, I loved all the people I met. The campus and the people were the biggest draws for me.
DP: Do you find there are any stereotypes about cheerleading you have to explain away?
MM: Maybe back home more so than up here. It’s definitely a different culture. I think people are surprised when they hear Princeton and cheerleading put together. One is seen as very academic and maybe the other not so much. But some of the most inspiring and impressive students I’ve met here are girls on my team. And they’re just rock stars academically.
DP: What would you say is the best thing about cheerleading?
MM: Definitely the diversity of people it brings together. Some of the girls on my team are my closest friends, and I don’t know if the same group of people would be together if we weren’t on the team.
DP: What would you say is the most trying part of cheerleading?
MM: Cheerleading is definitely a contact sport. It’s all body to body, all the time. If you don’t catch someone, they’re on the ground. So it’s really intense physically. This year, our biggest challenge has been that we don’t have any guys. They’ve all graduated or are injured. So we’re pushing to get more muscle under our stunts.
DP: What would you say to your male classmates to get them to consider joining your team?
MM: It’s the best way to pick up girls. There are lots of great male cheerleader pick-up lines. Boys pick up weights; men pick up girls. But honestly, it’s a really physical sport for guys. You do a ton of lifting. A lot of people don’t realize that when they think of male cheerleaders.
DP: When did you start cheerleading?
MM: I started at the beginning of high school. But formerly I had done gymnastics. So that was really transferrable.
DP: Can you point to a particularly embarrassing moment that has befallen you or a fellow cheerleader?
MM: This is a story of a former teammate, so nobody here now. In a competition, a girl had a hairpiece tied into her ponytail. While she was doing a jump, the giant hairpiece fell out and remained on the mat for the entire routine. She was pretty horrified by that.
DP: In cheerleading, success isn’t as immediately apparent as it is in other athletic endeavors. What goals do you guys set for yourselves?
MM: Our immediate goals are based on very specific stunts. And then girls also have individual goals for their tumbling and their jumps, just to develop those specific skills. As a team, we work on things like being synchronized, or working on condition and flexibility. General things like that.
DP: Who would you say is your quirkiest teammate?
MM: There are so many. I would say senior Autumn Waryjas. She’s small but mighty. And hilarious.
DP: Last spring, you had a chance to step on the other side of the sidelines. How intense was the level of competition at the 2014 Powder Puff football game?
MM: Extremely intense. I have been teased for my level of aggression during that game. But no regrets. It was awesome. I loved getting to be on the other side of things.
DP: Which eating club are you in?
MM: I’m in Cottage.
DP: Are the members there beautiful in appearance only, or do they also have beautiful personalities?
MM: Of course. The people are great. Every time I walk in there, I feel like I’m home.
DP: If you could bring three things on a deserted island, what would they be and why?
MM: Number one would be a working iPhone. Am I allowed to say I have service? Just because that thing is my lifeline every single day. Number two would be my mom, because she always knows how to fix any situation and provide regardless of what’s there. And number three… I would say my Pom Poms. Super vital to have those.
DP: Last year, you were featured in a ‘Prince’ article entitled “Coolest Dorm Rooms.” What interior design philosophy do you bring to a fairly bleak room space?
MM: I actually can’t take any credit for that. My mom is an interior designer. She came up to campus and kicked me out of the room. She made it look awesome. So I can’t provide any insight into the design behind that.
DP: If the four fingers and thumb on one of your hands were drink dispensers, which drinks would they dispense?
MM: Milkshake. Vanilla milkshake. Dr. Pepper. Root beer. Shirley Temple. And water. Oh wait. Sweet tea! Let’s kick out root beer, and put sweet tea first. It’s because I’m up here. I haven’t had it in so long that I’m deprived.