USF cheerleader has a passion for luge - WFLA News Channel 8

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USF cheerleader has a passion for luge

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Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer at left. Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer at left.
Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer at left. Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer at left.
Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer is a USF cheerleader. Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer is a USF cheerleader.
WESLEY CHAPEL, FL (WFLA) -

It all began with the promise of a free t-shirt signed by an Olympian.

When she was in 8th grade, Wesley Chapel's Sarah Reamer tagged along with a friend who asked her to go to a luge tryout at the University of South Florida. It was actually a nationwide sliding search conducted by the U.S. National Luge Team.

After surviving the first cut of 800 hopefuls to 75, partially because of her ability to reach 11 inches past her feet, Reamer's next stop was the U.S. National Training Center in Lake Placid, New York for a week of training. Reamer's potential, raw ability and other attributes impressed the right people, earning her a spot on the team.

It was an improbable dream come true, but it also meant the sacrifice of giving up a portion of her life in Florida. Reamer missed over 100 days of school every year for three and a half years, not to mention quality time with friends and family, such as missing Thanksgiving three years in a row.

"I was fortunate enough to really love luge, so giving up those sacrifices when it got really serious and being an elite athlete, it was just a no-brainer,"  Reamer said. "That's when I started giving up homecoming and 8th grade field trips, first days of school."

"I had to talk to them and ask them, 'Why did you pick her?'," said Sarah's father David Reamer. "Because they said they tried out 800 kids and picked one to put on the team and that was Sarah".

David Reamer said he never got comfortable with Sarah hurling down a mountain at 70-to-80 miles per hour and the first time he saw her practice, his daughter crashed. But as an admitted lover of speed, Reamer was hooked after her first trip down the course. Although, her mother Jean thought it might be a one and done trip and they could return to Florida.

"I knew that when she was done, she wasn't a big roller coaster person,"  Jean Reamer said. "I knew we'd be able to pack up and go home, because it's way too dangerous for me. So, she gets off the sled and I'm like, OK, can we go now? And she said, 'Do you realize I can slide faster on this track than you can drive on Quail Hollow Boulevard? No, we're not going home! ' "

After that, luge and the six hours per day of training necessary to become an elite athlete became Reamer's life. The first trip she took to Lake Placid was the first time she'd ever seen snow and the other athletes quickly gave her plenty of good-natured ribbing, always making her shovel show and calling her "Bambi on ice".

However, Bambi didn't have any trouble once she got into a sled. At the age of 16, Reamer was ranked third in the nation, competing at other Olympic venues such as Vancouver and Park City, Utah before retiring in 2010.

"I loved the start, because it's really explosive and you go into that compression and shoot out," Reamer said. "And that was something that I was used to as far as tumbling and some of my other training. And then, I just love speed."

Reamer is a junior majoring in marketing at USF and she currently gets her athletic fix by serving as a cheerleader for the Bulls. Sandy Clarke is the head coach of the USF All-Girl team which recently finished fourth in the nation at the UCA College Nationals and said Reamer's elite background in sports makes her an easy person to teach.

"It's nice to coach her, because she's really versatile," Clarke said. "She can do a lot of different things. It's easy to get her out of her comfort zone, because she kind of takes it as a challenge and really is self-motivated, so it's great to work with her."

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