Olivia Sorensen is on the Utah State University Eastern Spirit Squad. She has cheered for 16 years, but has been in Price for a month and a half. Sorensen comes from a town called Carrollton in the state of Georgia. Her family moved there when she was young. Sorensen is Georgian through and through.
She loves to show her southern pride. It’s a big part of her culture. “If you live in Georgia, you love it,” she said with a smile. One of USU Easterns biggest draws for her is the familiarity of a small town where everybody knows everyone else, “like a big family.”
All through high school, Sorensen wanted to go to a Utah college. At first she considered USU in Logan, even touring the campus with a cheer coach, but something wasn’t right. A friend who played volleyball at USU Eastern recommended this campus to her, and Sorensen liked Price right away. “It felt like home here,” she said.
She thinks the people at USU Eastern are “amazing.” Her teammates might mimic her Georgian accent now and then, but they all know she’s a dedicated member of the Spirit Squad. When they perform well, they tease that Sorensen “must have eaten her grits” that day. Calling herself a people person, she said, “My friends here are my ‘bestest’ friends ever. As long as I’m around people, I’m pretty much set.”
Maybe that’s why her time as an outfielder in baseball didn’t spark her interest. Sorensen’s older brother played baseball, so her parents put her into the sport as a child too. It wasn’t until they saw her doing cartwheels and climbing the fence during innings that they realized she needed something more acrobatic. Ever since, cheer has been her life.
Sorensen has noticed differences between Georgia and Utah. She was raised in a culture that values high respect, but some people in Utah are offended when she says “sir” or “ma’am.” What Utahns might consider a sign of age is a sign of politeness back home. “It makes me sad having to stop myself because these are my roots,” said Sorensen.
Religious norms are different, too. There’s not as much prayer in classrooms or before cheer events as Sorensen is used to. “It’s like they’re scared to [pray] in public because they’re going to offend someone,” she observed.
Communication is clearly important to Sorensen. She plans to study speech pathology after getting her generals and maybe even transfer up to Logan. Until then, she will continue to cheer for the Spirit Squad and enjoy her time in Price, making friends and eating grits.