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Stunts, Sideline, All-Star: Cheerleading Teams Vary In Type Of Performance, Purpose

Senior Savannah Smith leads the football team onto the field during the home game against John Marshall. Senior captains participated in this tradition again this year. Photo by Emily Whitehead.

For sports there are many differences to how to play and to the atmosphere surrounding them. One thing they have in common is the spirit and support from their cheerleaders.

In sideline cheer, the cheerleaders focus mainly on supporting the school, community, and encouraging crowd involvement.

Senior Jhaiden Harris cheers for the competition team, football sideline, and basketball cheer. All three of teams have an effect on Harris.

“Competition makes you feel more determined to do more things and like to be better,” Harris said. ”Football is just really fun cause everyone is there and it’s just like one of those high school experiences you get to have.”

Harris enjoys cheering for basketball, because unlike football, the cheerleaders actually get to watch the game and be able to really be a part of the game.

Other cheerleaders like junior Kayli Merritt, senior Savannah Smith, and many others only cheer for football, or the competition team, or cheer for basketball.

Merritt is a football sideline cheerleader and on the high school competition team.

“I enjoy varsity football [cheer] because you make so many new friends and become a huge family,” Merritt said. “I enjoy competition because of how exciting it is to be able to hit every stunt and get zero deductions.”

Smith, like Merritt, cheers for varsity football and is on the high school competition team, but not only is she a part of the cheer team family, she is the one of the team captains.

Smith, although not a cheerleader for basketball, explains that football sideline is not as laid back as basketball cheer, with a few more practices involved in football. 

“Football is difficult and you stunt a lot more,” Smith said.

With competition cheer being a big deal to most cheerleaders, many of the sideline and basketball cheerleaders usually tryout for competition team.

There are two types of cheerleading competitions: All-Star and high school teams. In All-Star cheer the tryout process is different and not based on skill. Athletes  who want to try something new usually tryout for All-Star competition. 

High school competition teams are based on athletes with the most skill and spirit. High school competition also does not travel as often as All-Star cheer competition does.

Senior Shynia Hudson does sideline, basketball, and high school competition.

“I enjoy the stunting, traveling because you get to talk to other cheer teams, the other coaches,” Hudson said. “We form a bond. It’s like a sisterhood.”

Hudson loves high school cheer competition, but given the opportunity, she would happily tryout for All-Star cheer to really put herself out there in the world of cheer.

Along with high school competition, Smith did All-Star cheer competition for eight years and then she stopped her junior year.

“It was really fun and taught me everything I know about cheer,” Smith said.

No matter what type of cheer team a cheerleader joins, they all work just as hard as the other teams to be spirited and skilled as they can be. 

“Just like every other sport, these athletes put in just as many hours if not more practicing they sport they love in order to be able to perform to the best of their ability,” Haydt said. 

Coach Rebecca Haydt works as the head coach of the varsity cheer team and is responsible for the entire cheer program which includes varsity, junior varsity, and middle school cheer.

In addition to the many, many hours spent in practices, the cheerleaders participate in many community service projects. They assemble the backpacks for back to school night, they work Fall Festival at Beazley Elementary, the volunteer in the Helping Hands project at Walton Elementary, and are involved in the Reading Program at South Elementary.

Whether on the sideline, the mat, or volunteering in their community, the cheerleaders commit themselves to their school and community.

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