I joined the cheerleading team for a day


Photo by Mia Clocker

Hadley Carr, Editor-in-Chief

On the dim and gloomy Friday that I set out to try cheer, I had no cheer. Zero cheer. Straight-faced and slow paced, I walked into the gym.

As I walked through the empty building on professional development day, a sinking feeling set in. But as I opened the door to the gym and saw the coaches and cheerleaders smile back at me, my mood was immediately lifted. 

Because the cheerleading team had championships the next day (and my tumbling skills are limited to a meager and wilted cartwheel), the team kindly explained to me their jumping routine. 

Disheveled and uncoordinated, I snapped my fingers to the first two beats. Then, I circled my hand around my head as though I was smoothing my hair gel. Then, the jumping began. I touched my hands to my toes, and attempted to straddle jump. Key word: attempted. Then, to finish it off, I again attempted a herkie (basically a half straddle jump). It made me feel like a Trader Joe’s version of Batman. 

By the end of my jumping routine, I was quite winded. That was when I learned that this jumping routine was only a five second segment of their routine. After I had my spotlight on the surprisingly bouncy mats, the cheerleaders got back to practicing for their championships. 

I expected shouting, a couple of somersaults, and maybe a cartwheel. What was performed exceeded my every expectation. There were human pyramids and flyers. I was watching “Bring it On” live, but with Jackson-Reed Tigers. I was speechless, and frustrated with myself. How have I gone through four years of high school not realizing the incredible stunts our cheerleaders do?

The team repeated the routine several times while I was there, but they had been practicing since 3:30 p.m. They left at 6:30 p.m. They had been practicing for multiple hours each day.

As the team gathered for their end-of-practice talk before championships, the coaches talked about leaving everything on the mat (otherwise known as “the blue”). They began talking about their outfits and kept mentioning Crocs. I didn’t think anything of this until I looked around me and saw bedazzled Crocs that the coaches had made for each of their players. 

Each pair was made unique to the athlete, coated with sparkling gems. When I walked into the championships at Coolidge the next day, my eyes were on the hunt for those Crocs. Unfortunately, all I saw were a stream of Deal and Walls cheerleaders coming out of the building.