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Rutgers cheerleaders perform on Good Morning America

<p>Lady Gaga fans and supporters of Rutgers cheerleaders cheer as they performed on Good Morning America.</p>

Lady Gaga fans and supporters of Rutgers cheerleaders cheer as they performed on Good Morning America.

To kick off Good Morning America’s “College Week,” the Rutgers cheerleading team showed the country their Scarlet Knight spirit Monday morning by performing side by side with pop idol Lady Gaga.

When 12 members of the all-girls team and 9 members of the co-ed team trekked to GMA’s set bright and early, the cheerleaders felt more excited than nervous, said Emily Zemlachenko, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

“Everything that we were supposed to be doing out there, they were skills that were very basic that … we can hit all the time, but it was just more exciting being in front of all of America at 7 a.m. in the morning,” she said.

When they arrived, Zemlachenko said the show’s crew situated the team in a room where they could prepare and listen to instructions.

“Everything was set up in different blocks, but it was very specific timing when things were going to happen,” she said. “They split the cheerleading team up into three different groups — one into the control room, one group outside for all the crowd and another group was by the anchors.”

After getting situated, the team performed stunts and tricks for a live performance of Lady Gaga’s newest single “Applause.” Although many college students gathered in the crowd for the performance, Rutgers was the only school shown on camera, said Sharyn Moran, a Rutgers Business School junior.

Amina Pratt, a University alumna, watched the performance live in the audience to support her friend on the team. Pratt, who sported a Rutgers t-shirt, said she was proud to watch her school represented on Good Morning America.

“It was cool. The cheerleaders did a great job,” she said. “I was proud to see Rutgers on a major television show and to see so many cheerleaders in comparison to the other schools that were here. I just wish there had been more Rutgers fans here.”

Off camera, the team had the opportunity to speak with Lady Gaga, said Caitlin Krenn, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

“She actually popped her head into our dressing room,” she said. “It was strange — she was excited to see us. She was like ‘oh, you guys are cheerleaders?’ We were like ‘oh, you’re Lady Gaga. Why are you excited to see us?’”

Since Rutgers used three signs for their performance — G, M and A — they gave Lady Gaga their G sign with the written message “To Lady Gaga, love Rutgers cheer,” said Amanda Cody, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

The team has met a few other celebrities over the years, including Victor Cruz, Nick Cannon and Nick Lachey, but Krenn said Lady Gaga stood out as one of the most kind and open.

“Often times, some are more standoffish because they’re so busy and they have a lot of people coming at them, but she was so willing to talk to us,” she said.

The cheerleaders ended their last season strong, placing third in the All Girl Division IA category for the 2013 Universal Cheerleaders Association’s College Nationals in Orlando, Fla., said Lauren Louis, an assistant coach of the all-girl team. She looks forward to watching returners and new talent work together for another successful year.

“They look great so far during games and really want to represent their school well,” she said.

Sean Timmons, head coach of the all-girls team, said the Good Morning America appearance was an amazing part of what has been an amazing six years of coaching.

“It’s the best seats in the house for every single game,” he said. “This year we’re trying to hold our spot if not move up … it’s just exciting — opportunities like this. We’ve done photo shoots before with Snooki and other stuff like that.”

Sabrina Szteinbaum contributed to this story.

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