When people think of cheerleaders, they usually associate them with wearing short skirts, big bows, and having loud voices to excite the crowd and encourage the players of the football team. Though a big part of cheerleading is being at the games, they have a hidden season of their own. Though their performances at the games seem like a small halftime show, cheerleaders spend countless hours every week perfecting their cheers, dances, stunts, jumps, and tumbling to create a seamless performance in which they showcase at several competitions through the season. At these competitions, the cheerleaders are the shining stars, instead of supporting a different team. Despite the differences between the two, both football games and competitions are important components to the sport of cheerleading.
Both games and competitions take an extreme amount of determination, hard work and rigor in order to look put together. Each different cheer requires a lot of practice to perfect. At the games, there are an abundance of cheers that could be called out by the captain at any minute, so all cheerleaders must be on their toes and ready for whatever is thrown at them. When performing a cheer, they must be very sharp with their actions and cannot get distracted by the loud, excited crowd right in front of them. They must interact with all different groups, including the football players by cheering them on, the band by dancing to their songs, and the audience by setting a precedent of high energy. It is a lot of work to be able to complete all of these tasks at once, and still, the girls perform flawlessly.
When it comes to competitions, the center of attention is the cheerleaders, who get to perform their highly practiced and perfected routine in front of a row of judges, each specializing in a different aspect of cheerleading. Each team gets a score, typically on a 0-100 scale, and the team with the highest score gets first place. Usually, places from third to first are announced, depending on the number of teams in a division. Teams can travel around the state, country, and even the world for competitions. In fact, just a few years ago, the TMHS cheerleaders traveled to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for a competition.
In preparation for both competitions and games, the TMHS cheerleaders practice for several hours each week focusing on many aspects of the sport such as cheers for the games, jumps, stunts, dances, and tumbling. To prepare even further, cheerleaders might go to separate tumbling classes and dance classes to better themselves as a athlete. They must also go through muscle training and must stretch every day to increase their flexibility.
In short, cheerleaders are very strong, determined athletes that work very hard behind the scenes. I talked to Jenna Wentworth, one of the captains of the TMHS Varsity Cheerleading team. It turns out the team lost their coach this year and had a period of time where they were left with no coach. Despite this bump in the road, the cheerleaders showed no signs of stopping and finally found a new coach. Jenna says, “We got a new coach this year and our coaches have been preparing us really well for our competitions and football games.” Their first competition is this Sunday, October 14th. “Our team has a lot of potential,” states Jenna. Good luck to all of the TMHS cheerleaders, and we applaud you for all of your hard work thus far!