When you’ve been where Stacy Walton Long’s been, the prospect of having to make a case to a judge and 12 jurors — with all eyes and ears in the courtroom hanging on your every word — isn’t so daunting.
See, before she was an award-winning Indianapolis law partner, the Champaign native spent fall Saturdays performing on the sidelines of some of the Midwest’s largest, loudest arenas, which occasionally meant having to overcome adversity, as the coaches and players she cheered for might say.
Like that time she implored the Memorial Stadium crowd to give her a D, and an E, and an F ... only to realize she was holding the ‘DEFENSE’ sign upside down.
But there were far more highlights than bloopers in her UI cheer career, from “the early morning workouts to practicing in the West Hall at Memorial Stadium and the Armory, and being part of a team that feels like a family,” says Long, who earned both her bachelor’s and law degrees at her hometown school.
“Running out the football team on Saturdays and performing on the sidelines was a huge rush of adrenaline. And although I’ve had several embarrassing moments on the field, nothing compares to performing in front of a crowd of tens of thousands of people and cheering on the football team — including my future husband at the time,” fellow Centennial High grad Robby Long.
Same goes for basketball game days at the building formerly known as the Assembly Hall — “running around the entire arena at the beginning of the third quarter — completely out of breath, trailing the big ‘I’ flag, performing during timeouts and cheering the basketball team onto victory.
“U of I will always be home to me – and not because I’m a townie, born and raised in Champaign — but because I learned so much about myself there. I owe a lot of the woman I am today to the time I had and lessons I learned at U of I.
"I hope the current students at U of I can leave Chambana and look back at their alma mater with the same heartfelt memories I have.”