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Jenna Spence

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Imagine having your high school sport nearly every single day of the school year and having a week or two off. For the Cheer team, that is their reality. Practice almost every day straight after school and cheering for football and basketball games from March until…March. Of next year.

A season begins in late March, or early April. After the two to three week process of selecting teams for JV and varsity, practice begins. Practice is every week day and Saturday until the first week of July, which is “dead week”. Dead week is a week in the summer where no high school coach can have any contact with any of their players. After dead week, preparation takes place for Summer Regionals, a competition where the team attempts to qualify for state.

“We practice every day from anywhere from six to eight in the morning until ten in the morning or noon working on our routine to get to state,” junior Molly Filger said.

After Summer Regionals, the main focus is back to school. During the fall, the cheer team is busy making back to school appearances, along with getting ready for football season and State, which is late October or early November. A lot of preparation and stress goes into State. The girls and coaches strive for perfection, especially with the pressure of winning State eight times in a row.

“Most people assume that winning once is a challenge and it definitely is,” head varsity coach Brenda Moats said. “The expectation to repeat applies pressure on not only the coaches, but the team as well. I think it’s stress on both staff and girls. The main difference or challenge we face as coaches is each year is a new team, new dynamic, new season. We have to start all over just like everyone else. It’s a retraining, refocusing, lots-of-hard-work kind of sport.”

There are a lot of aspects that the girls need to focus on in preparation for competition. Not only do the girls need to have impressive tumbling skills, but they need to be in sync with each other. They also need to be able to do multiple stunts and execute it cleanly. They also have to cheer at games and support other teams on top of supporting themselves.

“We work our butts off, I don’t think people see how hard we actually work,” senior Tianna Fry said. “Not only do we have team practices, but we practice motions and stretch at home and also go to tumbling.”

After football and State, the focus transitions into basketball, Regionals and the all-mighty Nationals at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The girls have to do well in Regionals in January in order to qualify for Nationals in February, so there is a lot of built-up pressure and anxiety in order to prepare. Not only did the girls qualify for Nationals this year, but they won Regionals as well. The main focus is on their two winter competitions, but the girls focus some time on learning cheers for basketball as well.

“Going later into the season, we sometimes struggle to remember the cheers for games,” Filger said. “I have been on varsity since my freshman year and I still forget some cheers. If you watch us during games, we help each other out and summarize a cheer before doing it in front of the crowd.”

After competing in their first three competitions, all of their focus goes into the last and most important one: Nationals. The girls try to focus on their strong suits and weaknesses in order to do well in the magical park with the ears, which is hard to do with such a diverse skill set.

“The coaches always tell us that we need to go to tumbling and work out outside of practice and to keep working on our skills,” Fry said. “As a senior and a captain, I see how girls have improved with tumbling or stunt skills from the beginning of the season to Nationals. The freshmen especially have improved from being able to do one small stunt to doing spins and more advanced stunts, which is awesome.”

In order to go to practice or a game every single day, a lot of motivation is required in order to be on the cheer team. The girls set small goals throughout the season, focusing on accomplishing one goal at a time. Because the girls have to do well in one competition in order to qualify for the next, the goals are easy to determine.

“We get so pumped and so excited after a competition because we always do our best,” Fry said. “That is what pushes us to keep going through the season, accomplishing one goal as a time.”

The girls also have little things to look forward to throughout the season as well. The seniors on the team get to design their State Champion rings and t-shirts. Team dinners are held at the coach’s house and themed practices are planned during spirit weeks or Christmas time. This also gives the girls the opportunity to bond and hang out outside of practice.

“We actually don’t bicker too much,” sophomore Mitchelle Rader said. “I think it is because of how long we are together that helps us always get along.”

A lot of time is taken out of the girl’s day and put into cheer. Practices are straight after school until 6:30 or 7 which is followed by dinner and homework and for some girls, work.

I probably go to bed around midnight or one in the morning every single night and then I have to get up early the next day,” Filger said.

It can be very stressful for the girls, especially when they miss sixth or seventh hour for cheering for away games, or being out of town to compete for Nationals.

“I barely handle the tight schedule, we all get very stressed but manage,” Rader said.

After Nationals and basketball season, the girls get about a two week off season until try outs start all over again. During that off season, the girls receive a workout routine that they must do to maintain their strength and stamina and go to tumbling on their own in order to improve their skills. Despite the stress, the girls agree that everything that they do is worth it.

“Everything is worth it,” Filger said. “Being able to go out onto the mat and compete in front of everybody, whether it be for the town of Liberty or at nationals, it gives you a feeling like no other, walking off of the mat knowing that you did the best that you could. Having that feeling is having something that you can never get rid of and it really soars your heart. It’s a great feeling that you really can’t get anywhere else.”

 

 

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The school news site of Liberty High School
Non-Stop