Lauren Whitt’s résumé reads like the ultimate cheerleading bucket list: Cheering on a college team. Check. National Championship. Check. Gold Medal. Check. TV, movie and Broadway roles. Check. And now she can add Cheerleader of the Month to her long list of accolades. But Lauren is not one to rest on her laurels. In fact, the sky is the limit for this tiny top girl.
Lauren first caught our eye her freshman year at the University of Central Florida, when this pint-sized powerhouse helped her team win UCA College Nationals in a major upset which unseated the legendary University of Kentucky Wildcats. The next time we saw her, she was cast as a cheerleader (go figure) in 2007’s Bring It On: In It to Win It, and we hand-picked her to model uniforms for AC in a photo shoot at Universal Studios. The next year, you could catch Lauren on WE tv’s “Cheerleader U,” a documentary-style show that followed Lauren and her UCF teammates from tryouts all the way to Nationals, where they scored the number-three spot. We followed Lauren through all four years at UCF, and then cheered her on during her gold-medal winning performances as a member of the elite Team USA Coed in the International Cheer Union World Championships. Fast forward to 2010, when the recent college grad and UCA camp staffer got a call that a Broadway producer and choreographer needed some of the top UCA staff to demo stunts for a little show you might have heard of: Bring It On: The Musical! After the workshop, Lauren’s top talent and star power got her an audition, and then a role in the new show. Almost two years later, the production has toured the country, from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Dallas, and now has found a home on the Great White Way. AC was at the St. James Theater on opening night, once again cheering Lauren on as she took center stage under the lights. Lauren’s story might sound like a fairy tale, but it took years of training, focus and dedication—not to mention stellar skills!—to make it to the top. Lauren was in seventh grade when she was bitten by the cheer bug. “I was taking a tumbling class at a gymnastics gym when I saw their competitive cheer program. I told my mom, ‘I want to do that!’” Lauren says. “Once I got in a stunt, learned a new tumbling pass, and met my incredible teammates, I knew this was the sport for me.” After high school, Lauren’s tumbling and stunting skills helped her score a spot on the storied UCF squad. The psychology major balanced a demanding cheer schedule while maximizing every media opportunity to put our sport in the spotlight (and still graduated in four years!).
Since then, Lauren has never stopped taking her skills to the next level, and she’s one of the most solid top girls to hit the mat. “I love doing baskets,” Lauren says. “It can be as simple as a straight ride or a toe touch basket or as complicated as a pike open double or a side-sumi double.” But Lauren knows that talent takes you only so far; it’s attitude and teamwork that make all the difference. “When I cheered at UCF and was on Team USA, we all became a family, just like our cast is a family in Bring It On,” says Lauren. “It’s fun to work with my close friends and help each other push through the practices and rehearsals and celebrate with each other through our victories, but all of these things take a lot of hard work, dedication and sweat in order to get the end result that you want. It’s not always fun when you are putting in the time to practice, but at the end, the payoff is completely worth every second and every sore muscle.” Get to know more about Lauren and discover just why this fabulous Florida athlete is our Cheerleader of the Month on page 42 of the October issue, and check out her blog on americaneedscheerleaders.com.