Some people do not consider cheerleading a sport. I feel that if everyone knew the amount of work all involved—on every squad—put in, they would feel differently.
Tryouts happened on a Friday, but the three days leading up to that were clinic days—where each cheerleader would learn a chant, dance and a cheer, along with jumps and teacher evaluations that they would be graded on by the hired UCA judges. We were divided by grade onto three squads: freshman, junior varsity and varsity.
Once we made the squad, the fun began.
Over the summer, we did multiple car washes at Bruster's Ice Cream to fundraise. During practices we would learn and review chants and cheers, and would condition to perfect ourselves for the seasons ahead.
Aside from practicing two to three times a week during the summer, a coaches camp was held for two weeks from 8-11 p.m. Monday through Friday to learn cheers and to teach us their home pom routines. During the coaches camp, an hour was spent on conditioning, an hour for stunting, and an hour for cheers, chants and dances. Every squad learned a home pom routine they would perform at camp for awards and trophies.
We were placed into “families” over the summer before camp. A family would consist of a senior “mom,” and freshman, sophomore and junior “daughters.” This helped everyone to get to know each other and make new friendships.
UCA Cheerleading camp was held at Slippery Rock University the past summer. We were always on the move while there learning new stunts, cheers and chants. At night, we would hang out and team-bond by performing skits for the seniors with our family. While at camp, the cheerleaders won top banana and multiple spirit days.
When we came back from camp, school was about to start so we made signs to decorate the school. All the squads became very close over the summer and formed a family. Throughout the school year, we'd have multiple football and boys and girls soccer games during the week as well as practices. It was very difficult to handle, but the memories and satisfaction of a happy crowd was worth it.
We got a bit of a break in between basketball and the fall sport season. But once basketball started, we were cheering at both girls and boys games, and had practice twice a week.
To celebrate the completion of a fantastic season, the cheerleaders, their families, coaches Chelsea Stockhausen, Emily Sasso and Alyssa Simmons—and administrators—attended Rolling Hills Country Club for a gathering and lunch. The seniors gave tearful speeches, the booster club and coaches both sent off everyone with encouraging words and a video including pictures, videos and interviews of the 2011-2012 cheerleading season.
I am sad to see the past season go, as it means leaving behind great memories, but I am excited to see what the new season brings as tryouts are in one month—the count down is on!