Cindy James’ charming personality and vibrant spirit create a natural persona. Her fluid and precise movements on the football field caught attention at the Jackson State versus Grambling State game. The cheerleading team hyped the crowd and revived an occasionally dwindling Tiger spirit.
James is the only international cheerleader on the Grambling State University cheerleading squad. However, she is the second international student to make the squad.
The first was a Mexican student 11 years ago, according to cheerleading coach Terry Lilly.
James is from Castries, St. Lucia. The islander is a sophomore marketing major who came to Grambling with a partial scholarship from the administration.
She appreciates the Grambling support she has received.
“I admire the way that faculty members push you to do well,” she said.
James honed her skills as a member of three dance groups on her home island-the Avad Dance Company, Les Enfants, and her church dance group, Youth Aflame, prior to becoming a Grambling State Tiger.
She realized her ability and passion for dancing at 13, when she began church choreography and dance performances. She admitted that she looked at cheerleading squads on television and dreamed about becoming one some day.
Grambling was the opportunity for her to live that dream.
She was the only international student to audition for a spot on this year’s team. Additionally she was nervous after she was unable to execute a backhand spring.
“Everyone looked so experienced,” she said. “It was really intimidating at first.”
The dance routine and steps were faster and more technical than her island dances, but the hard work of learning them was worth it.
She now finds that the squad is one of her most rewarding and exciting experiences. Everyone is like a big family, and very supportive of each other, as encouraged by Coach Terry Lilly, she added.
“It’s like a big party every Saturday. The Tiger spirit really comes out when I’m on the field,” James said.
After Grambling, she wants to integrate her marketing skills with the performing arts industry and become an artistic director.
To future dancers she said, “Put Christ first. Believe in yourself. Remove ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary, and hang out with people who will encourage you toward your goals.