Cheerleaders get in shape for upcoming season
They’ve been practicing since June doing conditioning drills, working on timing, perfecting formation. These Marion High School students are ready for football season.
Only they’re not the football team. They’re cheerleaders, 16 girls that comprise the largest squad in recent history to cheer on MHS sports teams. Eight of those are first-time cheerleaders.
Diane Jeffrey and Susan Hall have coached the squad since 2009, and have focused on improving not only the talent, but the overall perception of cheerleading.
Tryouts were held in the spring for this year’s cheer team, which is divided into two equal squads, one cheering for football and volleyball, the other for basketball. A smaller group also cheers for wrestling tournaments.
Junior Bailey Robson is a second-year cheerleader. It could have been her third, but she was too nervous to try out her freshman year.
“I was scared being out in front of everybody,” Bailey said.
She tried out as a sophomore, and the camaraderie among cheerleaders helped overcome her fear.
“At first it was scary, but then you get used to it,” Robson said. “It’s fun and you make a lot of new friends, people you’re not in classes with.”
Sophomore Shelby Felvus cheered for basketball last year; this year she switched to football. She said summer practice has been good to help orient the new cheerleaders.
“We started on June 30, and practice Monday and Thursday every week,” Felvus said. “We go through every one of the cheers, every one of the chants.
Second-year cheerleader Reann Hamm said members of this year’s squad have more friends and activities in common, which helped the team jell quickly.
“We started later, but the new girls learned faster than we did last year,” Hamm said. “We learn a lot more, and even if we know it we can improve on it.”
Tabor College senior cheerleader Ashlee Cole helped select this year’s squad and in mid-July conducted an intensive three-day camp for the team at Marion Sports and Aquatics Center.
“To see the difference from then, they’re confident, they’re wanting to entertain. It’s a glow you see in them,” Cole said.
Cole has been cheering since she was 4 years old, and drew on her experience in competition cheerleading, high school, and college cheer to add new wrinkles for this year.
“The biggest thing is making them into well-rounded cheerleaders,” Cole said. “We want them to look sharp. We’ve been working with signs, which is more of a collegiate thing.”
“This year we’ve learned a lot of dances that we can incorporate with our band music,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey, Hall, and Cole all stress the importance of being good ambassadors for the school, and the message has gotten through.
“Especially when you’re in uniform, people know you’re representing the school, so you should act in a respectful way,” Courtney Williams said.
“It’s our job,” Katie Nordquist said. “It’s really important to show our school that we’re there to encourage them and support them in their sports, and to really be classy and role models.”