From engaging with the sports community to hyping up the fans, the members of Oregon State University’s dance team put in their time and energy to bring spirit to the sidelines for Fall and Winter sports.
Or at least, that’s how it usually goes. While football has returned at Oregon State, and basketball is set to return on Nov. 25, the Beavers Cheer and Dance team is, as of now, not yet scheduled to return to the sidelines with them.
But whether on the field, the court, or in watching from home, the love of dance still remains strong in members of the team-- especially for Oregon State senior Natalie Bruun, a former Cheer and Dance competitor. For Bruun, that love for dance started at an early age and carried her from childhood to the collegiate experience.
“My dance career is fueled by my mom. [She] put me in dance, encouraged me to dance, kept pushing me-- all that stuff,” Bruun said. “I started ballet from when I was three until I was 14. Then in middle school, I started jazz [dance]. So I did jazz from sixth grade and to high school.”
But experience in cheer did not come until much later in Bruun’s life, once she got to high school. And when she did eventually try her hand at it, it was not an instant connection.
“I made varsity and I did three months of cheer, hated it and quit,” Bruun said. “[But] I was really missing dance, so I started going to college dance team prep clinic. I mainly stuck with Oregon schools-- so Oregon State and UO cheer, UO club, and Portland State Cheer. I tried out for Oregon State and made it my first night, and it was something where I was on schedule to go to UO, and then the day before the deadline to accept. I switched to OSU-- and it has been the most positive college experience I’ve had.”
Bruun had been a member of the dance team from Fall 2017 through Winter 2020, an experience that has allowed her to travel the country and make friends with her fellow Beaver dancers.
“I’ve had some great experiences, you know? I’ve made my very very closest friends through cheer. I’ve traveled through the US because of cheer. I’ve also had some down moments, like there’s practice at 6 AM, [but] I did it because I had this love of dance,” Bruun said.
It was Bruun's love for dance that made her dance for the last three years. Cheer at Oregon State is not considered athletics-- there are no scholarships, there are no academic services. Just the memories, and the experience.
“I was putting in 10 to 60 hours a week for cheer... we don't get paid for anything but it was my love of dance, and I feel like through dance I could express myself in a way that felt true to me,” Bruun said. “I’m very extroverted. I have a very really big personality and a lot of the time that comes off to people as ‘[oh my god] like that’s too much,’ and I feel that through dance I was able to be myself, but also I found people just like me who also love to dance, who also love the Beavers and sports and cheering on their friends on the football team. I will always treasure and value every single moment I have had in cheer.”
Now, in Bruun’s senior season, she has decided to take the year off from the team to focus on building a career after graduation.
“I decided to quit cheer this year… I need to focus on other things for my senior year I need to build a career for myself,” Bruun said. “I love to dance and cheer so much [that] the thought of being on the team and not getting to cheer, and the thought of the games happening but I have to stay at home-- I couldn’t do that. I needed to emotionally detach myself from that.”
But even though her time with the Oregon State cheer and dance team is over, that love of dance she developed at three years old has stuck with Bruun, who says she will continue to take classes at OSU and continue to dance for herself now.