STORY BY LUIS VALENCIA
PHOTO BY ALLISON SCHWEIZER
The night was full of stadium lights and cheers from an excited crowd. Maryna Buessing, a freshman here at Fort Hays State, comes tumbling out onto the field in her cheer uniform. She stuck her landing and invigorates the crowd as the football team storms the field in anticipation of a win. Her heart beats in her throat as she sees a whole new crowd of unfamiliar faces staring at her in curiosity.
There are many students at FHSU that are involved in sports and adjusting to long hours of practice and training. Paired with being removed from home, this adjustment can be a challenge. Buessing describes the challenges she has faced.
“There was a lot that I had to get used to, the practices here run longer than the ones back home,” she said. “It was really difficult dealing with long practices and piles of work.”
Buessing describes her first foray into collegiate cheer saying she was nervous at first, but quickly warmed up to the crowd.
“It was very nerve-racking cheering at my first FHSU football game,” Buessing said. “My heart was racing and I was so scared of messing up but after a while, I got used to it.”
Buessing also talked about the challenges she felt transitioning from a small town cheerleader to a university cheerleader. She had to deal with new things like balancing homework and practice time, as well as performing in front of so many faces. Hays feels very different compared to her hometown of Axtell, Kansas. However, Buessing is quickly adjusting to the home-town feel of Hays.
“There are more people here than in my old town, and it’s a little scary being in front of so many strangers,” Buessing said. “I was nervous but Hays felt just like home. After a few minutes of cheering, I began to feel more confident and the crowd really made us feel welcomed.”
Practice time is crucial for the cheerleaders before game day. Buessing spends most of her afternoon time practicing and working on her studies.
“I feel like balancing practice and homework was hard for me the first week, it was stressful, but now it feels easier,” Buessing said.
Time management seems to be something that student athletes struggle with, especially now since college is a whole different pace. Buessing hopes to continue being an FHSU cheerleader as the years go by. She wants to continue with her studies and be the best athlete and student she can be.
“I can’t wait to show others that being in college doesn’t just mean focusing on your studies,” Buessing said. “You can still join a sport or club and keep your grades up.”