1-legged cheerleader is standing tall
STORM LAKE The most impressive athlete on the field Saturday at Buena Vista University might not have been playing for either football team.
Nebraska Wesleyan cheerleader Sofie Tate was born with one leg. She does all the routines, jumps included, usually without the use of her crutches.
Tate takes her birth defect in stride. If this is the worst thing that happens to me, we'll be good, because it's not too hard at all, she says.
When she was younger, she used a prosthetic leg, but now usually goes without it, finding that the weight slows her down in her active lifestyle.
She had assumed she would have to hang up the pom-poms after graduating from high school in 2015, but Wesleyan's cheerleading coach had spotted her cheerleading on a local TV channel a couple of years before. When she showed up on campus, he sought her out and suggested she try out.
The other cheerleaders didn't know what to make of the freshman when she strode into the gym on crutches. But she made the squad, and in her second year, the other girls say they no longer even notice their teammate's disability.
Now, she cheers for both football and basketball, and she's often an inspiration for the sports fans she encounters around the Iowa Conference. But she says she just does what comes naturally.
I just kind of do what I do, I don't try to impress people, Sophie said in an interview.
Sophie has also been involved in dance since her preschool years, and was a competitive swimmer in high school.
Her future goals include starting a nonprofit organization to help developing nations to become more disability-accessible. Often in those parts of the world, children with disabilities are unable to attend school, she says.