Sydney Gonzalez makes history as first ever cheer recruit

Freshman Sydney Gonzales poses for a picture at Miami cheerleading’s media day. Photo credit: Sydney Gonzalez

Sydney Gonzalez, a freshman nursing student, is the first cheerleader recruit for UM, making history for Miami cheer and setting a path for others interested in cheerleading at the University.

“Honestly, it doesn’t feel real sometimes because, to this day, people will remind me that I was recruited, and I was the first to ever do so. It’s amazing and quite an honor because I’m setting the path for anyone else who wants to be recruited,” Gonzalez said.

A Georgia native, Miami was not on her radar when applying to schools. On a trip down to Florida with her mom, they stopped on campus and she applied soon after. That was after learning of Miami’s esteemed nursing program, which fulfilled her professional goals.

She then contacted the cheerleading coaches to learn more about Miami’s cheerleading program.

“I reached out to the coaches and the spirit coordinator. I just wanted to know more about the program. I asked just baseline information,” Gonzalez said. “Two days later, I got an email back. The coach, she was ecstatic.”

A Zoom call was scheduled shortly after that, which assessed Gonzalez’s skills and assets she would bring to the team. That was followed by a second Zoom call with her parents and some of the coaching staff – head coach Cecilia Esteban and one of the all-girl team assistant coaches – where she was offered a spot on the cheer team

Gonzalez chose the University of Miami as her school 24 hours after the meeting.

“In my heart and soul, I knew what the right one was, but obviously there were things that I had to like to consider and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, I chose this school and this program, so I emailed them back the next morning saying that I wanted to accept the spot on the team.”

Her story does not end there. Upon starting at the University, she quickly learned how to balance her life as a student-athlete at Miami.

“Luckily, I’ve been doing this for so long that at a very early age, I was always really good at time management,” Gonzalez said. “It was rough at first, just a little bit just. I had to get my scheduling down.”

Being a student-athlete at Miami does come with its perks, including its own dining hall and early registration. Because cheerleading is not registered under the NCAA, athletic scholarships are not given to any cheerleaders, recruited or not. Instead, they receive stipends, helping with the costs of being a student-athlete.

Gonzalez mentioned that Miami’s cheer program is young with a new coaching staff. Only recently has the team begun competing at the Universal Cheerleaders Association in Orlando, Florida.

The younger staff allows the cheerleaders to shape the program into their future vision.

“The coaches asked me what I wanted to do and what the plans that I see for the program in the future,” Gonzalez said. “They’re giving us the opportunity to use our voices to kind of guide the experience we want in college.”

Gonzalez’s journey from high school ALL-STARS to college-level cheer is unique. From seven competitions a year to one massive competition, along with dozens of division one games thrown into the mix, this recruited cheerleader is already exceeding expectations.

She hopes to see other cheerleaders follow in her footsteps at the University of Miami and open the door to more recruits in the coming years.