School spirit with Maya Moore

The junior flyer on the cheerleading team discusses the training and practice required for the sport, flipping and flying through the air, and her interest in health and medicine.

Maya Moore is lifted up by Penn cheerleaders for a cheer at a Penn basketball game.

The cheerleading team has the longest season of any sports team at Penn, beginning with camp in August before classes start and running all the way through the end of the basketball season in March.

Junior Maya Moore, a health and societies major from Silver Spring, Maryland, is in her third season cheering for the Quakers. Although she had no previous cheerleading experience, she says she was interested in trying out for the squad as a freshman because she enjoys being part of a team.

“Athletics have always been a part of my life,” she says. “I love exercise, I love having teammates, and knowing that there are other people that I can depend on, especially coming to a really big school like Penn. I wanted to know other people and have that really close connection. And beyond that, I have a lot of school pride so cheerleading was an ideal way for me to be able to showcase that.”

Penn Today met up with Moore in Weightman Hall to chat about the training and practice involved with being a cheerleader, flipping and flying in the air, and her interest in health and medicine.

Maya Moore and cheerleaders cheer on Penn at a basketball game.


How long have you been a cheerleader?

My story is a little bit different than most of the girls on the team. A lot of the girls did cheerleading in high school. I went to an all-girls school and they didn’t offer cheerleading. But I did competitive gymnastics for about 11 years before that. Then once the gymnastics program that I was a part of closed down, I picked up diving and track and field. Then once I came to Penn, I decided to join the cheer team. I knew a couple girls on the team and they were like, ‘Your gymnastics ability should probably prepare you well,’ and I just kind of picked up the new skill once I got here.

What is your practice schedule like?

We have practices two days a week in the evenings. We also lift two days a week. Those are Mondays and Thursdays. We work with Coach Pat [Dolan, assistant strength and conditioning coach at Penn Athletics]. That’s been something that I’ve really enjoyed because I did not lift before I came to college, and Coach Pat did a really good job of showing us proper technique. Now, whenever I go home, I go to my gym and I know how to lift properly because he’s given me those skills. And then we have games just about every weekend.


Maya Moore raises a pom-pom in her right hand at a basketball game.


Do you cheer at home and away games?

All the home games, and the away games kind of depend on logistics and whether we’re able to or not. But the team is set up where we split into different stunt groups and maybe some people will be away one weekend and some people will be home. 

What position are you on the team?

My first two years, I was a base. This year, I’m a flyer, so the person that’s up in the air. I’ve always wanted to be a flyer so when my coach came to me and was like, ‘We need an extra flyer on the team,’ I was really excited to take on that opportunity.

Why were you enthusiastic about being a flyer?

My gymnastics background is definitely a big reason. Basing is fun, but with flying you get to do flips in the air and twists. It kind of mirrors the skill set that I already had before.

Is it scary when people throw you up in air?

It definitely can be. Like I said, I didn’t always fly so it’s just getting used to that feeling of being in the air and being comfortable trusting your bases to catch you if you fall. It’s really fun to be up there, and you just get very comfortable and get to wave to people in the crowd.


Maya Moore stands with her hands on her hips at a basketball game.


You are on the pre-med track. Do you know what type of medicine you would like to pursue?

I’m thinking orthopedics. An orthopedic surgeon. That’s been a long-term goal of mine. Sports have always been a big part of what I’ve done. Obviously, people get injured in sports a lot so being exposed to that very often just inspired me to want to be someone who’s able to care for people in those kind of settings.

Where does your interest in health and the health field come from? Was it just something you always had?

It was definitely something I’ve always had. Also, a lot of people in my family have sickle cell so that’s definitely been a big part of my growing up experience. I realize how health is so important to people’s livelihood and wellbeing. As a doctor, being able to contribute to that is something that I think would be amazing, especially given my strong background in the sciences.

Do you know what you want to do when you graduate next year?

I’m hoping to take a gap year before I go to medical school. In that gap year, I’m thinking I’ll either continue doing research or potentially get a job in something public health-related.


Maya Moore cheers with her pom-poms on the basketball court with her fellow cheerleaders.