Ryan Fox never dreamed he would one day not only be a member of the Louisiana State University Cheerleading Gold Team, but he would travel to China to cheer.
Fox grew up in Beauregard Parish, attending school at East Beauregard. He played basketball, baseball, ran track and cross country.
His parents are Kay and Nick Fox of Dry Creek. His sister, Megan, attends McNeese State University, and his brother, Logan, is a student at East Beauregard.
The family attends as many games as they can.
Fox accompanied a friend to LSU cheerleader tryouts, and decided to take a shot.
He not only made the team, he was a member of the Gold Team. He also made the National Team.
LSU has three cheerleading teams, gold, purple, and white. Gold and purple cheer at games, the white team cheers in the stands.
There are eight couples on the gold team and the purple team, and six couples on white.
Cheerleader tryouts are in April, and no one is guaranteed a spot. Competition is fierce, and requirements are stringent.
"Everybody has to try out again when the season is over," said Fox. "No one is guaranteed a spot."
Students must be outgoing, well grounded, and keep up their grades.
The young men and women must be physically fit, able to perform stunts, handsprings, and keep up the energy level of the crowd during football, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics events.
There are numerous practices and community obligations, an honor for the students.
"Jessie Majorie has been my stunt partner throughout the year," said Fox. "We work really hard, and have to put a lot of hours in."
Fox said the team has two practices daily, two to three hours each, and they also work out on their own.
"It's not easy but it is a great experience," said Fox. "They're sending us all over the world. It's awesome."
The LSU Cheerleaders were invited to perform at the 2012 China Cheerleading National Championships last November in Wuxi, near Shanghai.
The China Cheerleading Association (CCA) and China Sports Ministry and Olympic Committee hosted the event. They wanted a top level university coed cheerleading team from the United States to perform at the finals.
CCA wanted a team skilled in crowd traditions and a top skill level, and LSU was chosen.
The cheerleaders would leave Dec. 13, and return home on Dec. 19.
"We only had a few weeks to get our passports and Visas ready," Fox said. "It was next to finals in Semester 2."
The team rose to the challenge, practiced hard, and made the long journey to China.
"We were the opener and we performed for two and a half minutes," said Fox. "They loved us. We were the only team to represent the U.S. We're very lucky to be picked.
Page 2 of 2 - "The people were so nice to us. They gave us jackets, and we traded LSU stuff," he said. "They were very gracious."
The cheerleaders stayed in a hotel at Joyland, a theme park which was opened just for them.
"We rode all the rides and it was amazing," said Fox. "We also got to see the tallest standing Buddha statue in China. You could see it from a couple miles away in the mountains."
Now the team is gearing up for the national competition in Orlando in a few weeks.
Fox is studying graphic design and hopes to travel more when he graduates.
"I jumped into cheerleading and look where it's led me," he said.
Fox doesn't have much free time but when he does, he enjoys playing basketball.
He doesn't mind the hard work and is grateful for the amazing opportunities he has enjoyed.
"Not many people get this kind of experience in their life, and I am very fortunate," said Fox.