It wouldn’t be a bit surprising to learn that recent Marquette Academy graduate Molly Snook would know the words to the University of Notre Dame fight song. After all, it’s soon going to be her job to “cheer, cheer for ol’ Notre Dame.”
Snook, who excelled in cheerleading as well as basketball and track during her four years at the Ottawa school, has signed on not only to study and cheer at the collegiate level, but to do both in South Bend, Ind. at Notre Dame, the one of the most famous and popular universities in the country, if not the world.
“I am in awe! I love it!,” said the effervescent Snook, who was also one of the top scholars at MA academically. “I can’t wait to get started. I’m very excited!”
Snook, who liked ND but was afraid it would be too hard to get into, had instead planned to attend and study biomedical engineering — with a goal of one day building prosthetics and medical equipment — at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She continued to work on her skills while still at MA, though she was uncertain she’d want to cheer at the next level.
“I kinda toyed with the idea of cheer in college, but there was something inside me that said I’m not good enough, which is terrible of me to say,” she said. “It was just something that I wanted to get into recently, not necessarily a new dream because I knew I loved cheerleading. But as it came closer to my high school career to be over, I put in more work in cheer because I knew I would miss it a lot.”
So, wanting to make the most of her senior year, she returned to the tumbling she’d taken up to the age of 13 and did a year of competitive cheerleading with Gym Time Illinois in Joliet and still works on her tumbling at ICE All-Stars in Naperville.
That, she said, “really opened my eyes to cheering.”
And then her plans changed again after one weekend in early May when her parents took her to South Bend. Though still no tours allowed due to pandemic restrictions, she saw enough that she liked during their own self-made tour that her heart was set on the home of the Fighting Irish.
“We walked around and it was absolutely gorgeous,” said Snook. “As soon as we got back in the car, my dad said, ‘Molly, you have to apply here.’ I said, ‘Dad, I’m already filling out the application.’
“At first, I got wait-listed there, but I took that as something good because I didn’t think I’d get anything and that told me my chances weren’t over. I tried out for the cheer team and made it to their second round, and right about then my admissions counselor called me and offered me a spot. That was a fun week! And then I made the cheer team and there was so much information, it was crazy! … But now I’m there and it’s amazing.”
Though she will have to major in mechanical engineering because that her chosen major was not available to undergraduates, Snook has already received the schedule for the first week of practice, having to report a week ahead of the first day of classes.
At that time, the coaches will determine a specific skill level for each one of the participants. The higher-level members will get to cheer the most popular sports, with Notre Dame football being top of the ladder. The next level will cheer basketball and so on down the line to the less popular sports.
“That’s just making me work harder because I don’t know where I am on that list and I want to get as high as possible,” Snook said. “We don’t know anything about that yet, but I’m hoping I’ll get to cheer for multiple sports.
“This difference between high school and college cheerleading is one of the things I was nervous about. At Marquette, we never competed, so it was comparatively laid back and we did a lot of all-girl stunting, but in college, we have co-ed stunting where I’d work with one boy as a team. They expect you to have a lot of experience in tumbling and gymnastics, too … I feel I need to work on my two-person stunting, which I just started in December and I want to get better at that, that and my tumbling.
“But personally, I think my strength is my personality. That’s not really cheering, but when it comes to cheerleading, you have to have a big, happy personality. Skills you can always get, but if you’re sad and never look happy, it shows. You really need to be upbeat and positive … and that’s me.”