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More than I thought: Cheerleading reflections

Hayden Graves, 14

Cheer is so much more than I thought it would be. When I was little I would watch shows and movies which would include cheerleaders and I always wanted to be one. Now that I am a cheerleader, I never thought about just how much goes into it. For example, when we stunt we have to follow rules and be very focused, and when we condition we condition for each different part of cheer. I have made so many good friends being on the cheer team. My coaches like to say that the girls on the team will be our strongest and closest friends we’ll ever have. I agree with that completely.

Stunting is one of the most difficult parts of cheerleading. There are five main parts to a stunt group: The flyer-the person being lifted into the stunt. The two basses-each holds one of the flyer’s feet. The bases have the most crucial part of the stunt because they are the ones being depended on to catch the flyer if something goes wrong. The back spot-help the flyer up into the stunt and help them balance in the hands of the bases. They also give commands to the bases so they know when to let the flyer down or let them get up into the stunt safely. The front spot-helps the flyer balance when up in a mini stunt or an extension stunt and is there to help catch the flyer if they start to fall forward. All of the people in the stunt group should know how the other positions work and can do them so that they understand what exactly is happening in every part of their stunt. Every part of the stunt group is important and if one person does something wrong someone could get hurt.

Conditioning is another big part of cheerleading. Everyone has to be in good cheer shape to be able to do everything we do. We have different kinds of conditioning for different parts of cheer such as tumbling conditioning. First, we look to see who can do what, and then if someone has the wrong form the coaches try to fix it. We condition our leg muscles by doing squats or chair sits. We have all become so much stronger from when we started cheer. We condition one day a week because if we don’t stretch or work the muscles that we need we can hurt ourselves or others. Another kind of conditioning that we do it with weights. We use three to five-pound hand weights and we go through the movements of our cheers over and over. We do a lot of ab workouts and core strengthening exercises. Conditioning is a very important part of cheer.

Teamwork is a crucial part of cheer, everything we do is teamwork. For stunting, we all have to be on the same page, for ground cheers, we all have to be in sync with our movements and our words. There are two teams at Marquette Senior High School, J.V. and Varsity. I am on the Varsity team but we all practice together and work on the same things together. Varsity has to stay for the J.V. games while the J.V. team is cheering, and the J.V. team is expected to stay while the Varsity team is cheering. We all cheer for each other and help one another when we need it. The team is much closer than I thought we would be because of how well we work together.

Cheer is so much more than the stereotypes that are out there. A cheerleader has to be strong, confident and be a good teammate. When we practice we make sure that everyone knows what we are supposed to do and when. We practice synchronization by chanting and doing jumping jacks so that we can feel the beat and get a workout at the same time. We have to learn a lot of cheers and memorize them all and be able to recall each of them by name during games so we can engage the crowd. Once I learn the words and the motions of each cheer it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. When I started high school I never would have thought that I would get the chance to be part of such an amazing team and become such good friends with everyone.

Cheer has so much more to it than people think. Once you get past all of the stereotypes, it is so much fun and anyone who has the chance to try it should.

Editor’s note: Hayden Graves is a freshman at Marquette Senior High School and enjoys writing, cheerleading, and 4H.

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