Cheering on our cheerleaders

Edith Corrigan County, Junior Editor

Although you may only see them doing cheers during basketball games or dances at halftime, the cheerleading team has an intense schedule that goes beyond the eyes of Tiger fans.

With three hour practices four days a week or more, attending basketball games, preparing for competition, going to school, and completing homework, burnout is hard to avoid for the cheerleaders. 

“We support our basketball and football teams at the same time as trying to get our sport done and our competition season ready,” said Junior Laura Welles. 

Along with maintaining a rigorous schedule, cheerleaders have to keep a strong mentality as well. During practices, teammates must show grit and trust in each other in order to perfect the complicated stunts and specific techniques. Whether you are the flyer being thrown into the air or the base supporting them, each person has to trust one another and learn together. 

“They say that cheer is 80% mental and 20% physical, so you definitely have to have a strong mental attitude, you have to be very ambitious, and you can’t take failure as the end result,” explained senior and co-captain Cierra Barnette. 

The physical aspect is still a crucial part of cheer as you rely on your arms, legs, and especially your core. 

“You have to be a strong, all-around good athlete,” said Mailey Rash, a junior and team co-captain at Jackson-Reed who has been cheerleading since the age of five. 

Welles, Barnette, and Rash all agreed that cheerleading gets overlooked at Jackson Reed. 

“I don’t think people take it seriously, and they don’t think that we actually compete at competitions and many people don’t think it’s a real sport,” said Rash. Welles added that people “don’t really see us perfecting our craft and doing what we love, and why we joined the team in the first place, [which] was to do competition and stunts.”

Barnette said that when the team won DCIAA’s level two cheerleading competition and became the level 2 grand champions last year, no one really talked about it. The 2022-2023 Cheer team once again won the Level 2 High School Cheer Championship 

“When other sports win, it’s a very big deal, so it’s kind of annoying,” Barnette said. 

Coaches Dionna Mctaw, Tay Mctaw, and Liz Lancaster also agreed that cheerleading is often underappreciated.

“I definitely think we get overlooked, but I think cheerleading gets overlooked as a whole,” said Dionna Mctaw.

“People think cheerleading is a supportive sport, they think the goal is to shake on the sidelines, or root on a general league all-male sport, when it’s really about the tumbling, the flipping, and the stunting. It’s a very athletic sport,” Mctaw continued.

Rash agreed that flying is her favorite part about cheerleading and Barnette added that the tumbling is hers, but what brings back Welles to the team each year is the people. “The bonds I create – it’s just unlike any other team I’ve been on,” she said.