Taylor De Young

Cheerleader of the week

“I’m getting used to being part of the team now,” says Taylor DeYoung, who’s entering her second year at the University of Illinois.
“Last year, I was so nervous when we first started, but now it’s like everything is second nature.”
And it should be pretty easy for Taylor to get fired up over the Fighting Illini as they go up against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this Saturday.
This sophomore nursing major has had an eventful run at the University of Illinois herself, and she’s sounding really settled in for her second year in front of the fans…

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  • College:
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Year:
  • Graduating Class:
  • Major:
    Nursing Major
  • Hometown:
    New Lennox, IL




What’s it like to cheer for a school like the University of Illinois?
I love it. At first, I wanted to attend college really far from home, but I grew up only about two hours from here. The hardest thing to get used to was that there are so many people on campus. I come from a pretty small town called New Lenox. That’s really a suburb that’s south of Chicago, but I went to a high school that had a graduating class of barely 300 people. That seems small now.
University of Illinois obviously has a lot of tradition behind it, but what does that mean for the cheerleaders?
We’re  a real traditional school, and we’re really known for our fight song. it’s one of the older fight songs around, and especially as far as the squad using the same motions that were made up however many years ago. I’ve noticed that when we’re at a cheerleading camp, all of the other squads will gather around and watch us because it’s so different. People really like that kind of thing.
So which games are you getting really excited for this season?
I’m excited for any of the Big Ten games. I love Wisconsin and all those games–and as a freshman, I didn’t get to travel to any away games last year, so that’s a big deal. We have such a big team–including a coed group and an all-girl group–that the university has a rule for how many people can head off to a game. I should get in at least two or three away games this year.
Where do you plan on hanging out when you’re not on the road with the team?
Well, I love the Main Quad. It’s just great to be out with everybody. My favorite places off-campus are–well, there’s Insomnia Cookies that’s out near the bars, and everybody has to stop by there on their way home. It’s open until around 3 am. And there’s Fat Sandwich Company, which is another place that everyone loves that’s open late. It’s out near all the bars, too. I guess that’s the idea, right?