Commitment and dedication necessary for success
Each sport has a season and a specific time commitment, but cheerleading goes all year long. For the FC varsity and junior high teams, members cheer for football and basketball. But on the side, they also have their own individual sports to which they compete against.
Competitive teams spend four to five months learning and perfecting their routine for judges in multiple competitions. The varsity cheer team competes in three competitions this year around the Fresno area, and they learned the routine in September.
Practices happen more often during competition season, with multiple practices before and after school so coaches and athletes can gain as much time as possible to prepare.
Brooklynn Barth, ’16, alumna and former cheerleader shares about the work that goes into competition season.
“Competition cheer is made up of over 100 hours of hard work over a span of months, to compete for two minutes and thirty seconds,” Barth said. “That, to me, shows that it is different than any other sports out there.”
Two of the competitions have already passed. FC competed in the Clovis Pep competition and the 4th annual Central Section CIF competition at Buchanan. The final competition will be March fourth at the Clovis West Showcase. Captain Brooklynn Ainley, ‘17, shares her thoughts about the past two competitions.
“For the first two competitions, we did really well as a team,” Ainley said. “There’s a lot more prep for competition cheer than there is for game cheer, and a lot more practices. I’m excited to see us progress in difficulty for the next competition.”
Competition begins in January and continues until the beginning of March. Of course, like all other athletes, the teams work each day to make sure they perform the best they can. Cheer includes makeup, bows, and glitter, so preparation begins hours before check-in time. The girls take turns doing each other’s makeup and hair at a designated house, which helps the team bond.
The team must also cheer for basketball games and football games, even within competition season. Cheerleaders balance school, family time, game cheer, and competition practices all at once.
Amanda Grimmius, ‘19, explains her family’s support through this busy season.
“My family is so supportive of cheer,” Grimmius said. “I’m extremely blessed to have parents that support my passion. It is extremely hard to balance cheer, school, and competition.
“I find it best to focus on what I am doing in the moment and devote myself completely to the task, whether it be cheer, school or friends,” Grimmius continued. “It helps to be in the moment, not worried about the future.”
Inside of the warm up room, a team has about three minutes to place final touches and practice stunts before going in front of judges. Grimmius explains what happens during the time on the warm-up mat.
“Personally, I use our time in the warm up room to get my head in competition mode and ready myself to perform,” Grimmius said. “As a team, however, we use the time to warm up our stunts and hype ourselves up.”
This year, the varsity team made a jump from a tumbling division to a non-tumbling division to raise the level of difficulty of the stunts in the air. Usually, in a tumbling routine, there is a requirement depending on what division and how many back handspring passes needed to be in a routine to qualify. For the varsity team, there are only a few people able to tumble.
Ainley continued to talk about the differences of a tumbling and non-tumbling in the Eagles’ routine.
“Going from a tumbling routine to one without is hard because we’re taking out a factor that is difficult. We have to add more difficult stunts,” Ainley said. “I’ve been tumbling pretty much all my life.”
At the last competition, the Fresno Christian varsity team earned third place out of the nine teams in the division. The junior high team and varsity team both took second at their first competition at Clovis High (The Clovis Pep and Cheer Classic) and look forward to the next competition.
Barth is also the coach of the elementary and junior high teams. She explains the complexity of balancing cheer and life.
“Balancing cheer in my life got harder with each year because I continued to add in activities, like choir, ensemble, and a job,” Barth said. “Cheer was so important to me that I had to learn good time management and enjoy every minute on the mat, field, and court.
“Coaching elementary and junior high cheer is such an enriching experience, but it is different than cheering,” Barth continued. “As a coach, I watch over the whole team and make sure that everything is running smoothly, while as a cheerleader, I made sure I was doing my part and checking on my teammates.”
Cheer has become more complex than simple game actions and pom-poms now. The world of cheer is still expanding and moving to become more complicated and exciting. With new divisions and requirements being added for new stunts, cheer set to become a CIF sport soon, all cheerleaders are looking forward to what’s next.
For another cheer article, read Cheerleading set to become an official CIF sport.
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