High school cheerleading adds new competition team

The cheer team perfects their routine positions that they will perform for upcoming competitions. (Photo by Sydney Hoffman)

As last year’s Division III State Champions, the cheerleading team is coming back even bigger this year with a brand new competition team.

Head cheer coach Brooke Wojcik said that both participants and skill level have been growing over the past couple of years. Because of this increase as well as an additional coach, the cheer program decided to add a new gameday competition team, she said.

“We had so much interest from our team in competing,” Wojcik said. “In cheer, you are able to complete multiple routines, and with the addition of a new coach this year, I felt like it was something that we could take on, and it would only help us continue to improve.”

The new gameday team will perform a similar routine to the sideline cheers for sports with a band dance, a sideline and a crowd cheer incorporating skills like jumps, tumbles and stunts, Wojcik explained. The gameday team performance is not as advanced as the traditional team but instead uses props like flags, megaphones, signs, and poms to get the audience excited, she added.

“The goal of a game day routine is to get your crowd pumped up and yell with you as loudly as they can,” Wojcik said.

The program is also continuing the traditional competition team that won last year, she said. Wojcik explained that this team’s performance is a one minute long crowd cheer and one and a half minute long routine to music, as well as some more advanced tumbles and stunts.

The team began to practice in the summer to ensure they had plenty of time to prepare both teams’ performances in February and improve skills and learn sideline cheers for games, Wojcik said. To make the competition teams, the cheerleaders must be flexible, have good technique and be strong at both tumbling and stunting, she explained, but most importantly, she looks for cheerleaders who are positive and hardworking.

“Anyone with a good attitude that is willing to work hard can be coachable,” Wojick added.

Wojcik said that starting in August, the cheerleaders were given the choice to participate on a competition team. Then the coaches built the teams based on the cheerleaders’ skills and the needs for the team, she said. She added that 16 girls were chosen for the traditional competition team and 25 were selected for the new gameday team.

Senior and varsity co-captain Tess Schottenstein said that in order to improve this season, the cheerleaders have been working with the weight trainer and doing their own workouts. She said that they do this to work on their core strength, flexibility and stamina for all of their stunts and tumbles. 

“All of that, along with yelling the cheers, punching our motions, and getting the crowd pumped is very tiring, so we try our best to stay in shape,” she said.

Junior and varsity captain for the basketball season Kara Kilbourne said that because of the new competition team, they have been having practices more often and for longer than usual. She said that the team practices two to three times a week for competition and one day a week for the school cheer season, but once they get closer to the competition date, they will begin to practice every day.

“Our goal is to get our competition routine down and make sure everything is solid,” Kilbourne said.

Wojcik said that she has three main goals for the team. First, she said that she wants the competition teams to perform challenging routines with zero deductions. Second, she would like both teams to qualify for state regionals. Finally, Wojick hopes that both teams will place in the top three in their divisions.

“Obviously we will work hard to repeat, but that is a tough thing for anyone to do,” she said.

Although the program has lost many team members who graduated and experienced delays due to the coronavirus, Schottenstein said that she thinks that this season will be successful.

“Seeing the skills our 2020 team has already achieved, I can’t wait to show off what we have accomplished,” Schottenstein said. “I believe it’ll be a great year.”