Penn State Cheerleading A Family Affair For Alves Triplets
The Alves triplets do nearly everything together.
The sisters — JoJo, Lina, and Gabby — live together, drive the same car, and have lots of the same friends. They’re also Penn State cheerleaders.
Cheerleading has been the Alves’ way of life for their time at Penn State, which comes to a close with their graduation on Friday, May 5, as part of the Class of 2023. But from their childhood until the end of their Penn State careers, it’s defined much of who they are.
Cheerleading was a family affair for the sisters when they were growing up. When they were young, their uncle coached Pop Warner football, while their aunt led a cheerleading team. The trio enjoyed being in football-based environments, and it was something that they were comfortable with.
“It was something we always stuck by,” Lina said. “It was the most natural thing and we always liked being around football and doing something relating to that.”
As the triplets cheered throughout high school, they realized that they wanted to continue their passion in college. However, they never had their sights set on doing it together. The sisters come from a small town in New Jersey where attending college isn’t taken for granted, so wherever they each ended up, the trio was just happy to escape their hometown.
Penn State was an unknown entity for the sisters until Gabby saw a picture of former Nittany Lion quarterback Trace McSorley, which prompted her to look into the school. Gabby got her sisters interested in the school, and as JoJo and Lina started investigating, all three sisters decided on Happy Valley as their dream destination.
“When we all visited Penn State, we all equally fell in love with it,” Gabby said. “It was like a miracle.”
It wasn’t easy for all three triplets to end up at Penn State or on the cheerleading team. Acceptance to Penn State is required to try out for the team, and it took some time for all three to get into the school.
Even after weeks of hassling with Penn State admissions and earning acceptances to the university, there were no guarantees that the sisters would roster on the cheerleading team. Coaches told them that the success of one or two sisters didn’t mean that the others could expect an offer. Instead, each would have to get in on their own merit.
Still, the sisters gave it a shot. They weren’t guaranteed positions on the team together, but that wasn’t a challenge that they had to face. All three were accepted to the team before their freshman year.
Despite the preexisting relationships that the sisters had with each other, it wasn’t hard for them to meld with the team. The trio wasn’t treated as special, and they were part of the overall group.
“We’re not really known as the triplets,” JoJo said. “We’re just like everyone else or just like anyone on our team.”
Their time with the cheerleading team brought the sisters, who were already tight before college, closer together. It was something that they had in common all their lives, and at Penn State, it continued to be a special bond.
“It definitely brought us closer. It’s a shared experience and something we can relate to,” Gabby said.
“Not only have we gone through good times together, but also the times where it was hard or cheer would be a struggle,” JoJo continued. “We had each other through it.”
The trio has gone through nearly all of Penn State together. They’ve been on the field when Penn State football lost at Minnesota and the Golden Gophers’ fans jumped over the stadium barricades to celebrate. They’ve been on the court when Nittany Lions fans stormed the Bryce Jordan Center court after a men’s basketball win over Maryland. They’ve been on the floor of the BJC dancing for THON together.
The idea of not experiencing those events together seems almost surreal to the triplets. They’ve been with each other for so long that college wouldn’t seem feasible without the trio together as one.
“I can’t imagine if we went to three different schools and had three different experiences…when we talk about our memories and look back, it’s with each other,” Gabby said.
As the sisters get ready to graduate, they prepare to leave cheerleading in the past. While they could have an opportunity to cheer professionally, or in Gabby’s case, at Rutgers during graduate school, it isn’t something they’re interested in.
Instead, they’re ready to take what they learned from cheerleading and apply it to their new lives. They also want to look back at college and cherish their time together as they enter their next chapters.
“I feel like we are gonna look back and it’s gonna feel like a fever dream. It already does,” JoJo said. “It’s just something we’re blessed with, and [something we’re] blessed to have each other during.”
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