Confessions of a Cheerleader

“Two minutes and thirty seconds of torture for a lifetime of memories,” coach Marge Elvers typically says before going full-go. Full-go is when cheerleaders do their complete two minute and thirty second competition routine as if the cheerleaders were at competition. Two minutes and thirty seconds may not seem like a lot, but every single second we are moving at top energy and spirit. From within that little time frame we are judged on jumps, cheer, stunts, dance, standing tumbling, running tumbling, and pyramids with no break or pause in motion. All the sections are judged on execution and difficulty.

 Cheerleaders practice full-go multiple times when striving towards the regional, state, and national competitions and championships where the practices equate to death.

  Now you may think I’m about to dish our biggest secrets or the tricks and tips to throwing a girl in the air while she spins 360 degrees, but I’m not. I’m not even going to try and convince you that cheerleading is a sport, because if you participated on a serious team, you would know the truth.

  Instead, I’m going to tell you the things about cheerleaders you’d never suspect.

  I’m a athlete on the fifteen member varsity cheer squad and we’re downright superstitious.

 “When I was a flyer, I used to wear a certain perfume and I couldn’t wear a black tank top. I had so many superstitions,” former flyer and junior Scottie Martin said.

  In the famous cheer movie Bring It On: In it to Win It, it pokes fun at cheerleading superstitions with the spirit stick and its curse.

  On the other hand, we enforce the idea of “knock on wood.” If someone says something presumptive, we think it will jinx the routine and someone will run to knock on wood or sometimes even knock on a person’s head. Many of the girls also have to high-five with the same person every time before we go full-go, which can go from anywhere to one, three, or eight.

  “I have to fist bump Destiny before stunts,” junior Annabelle Corchiani said.

  Other times we joke that the “cheer gods” will get you if you don’t do the work. For example, if a girl has been working on a certain tumbling skill and goes on vacation and comes back: she has to start it all over again. It’s a joke we make that the cheer gods are making you pay.

  “Ten tucks [backflips] a day keeps the touch-outs [not landing tumbling] away,” junior Tess Christensen said.

 There are cheerleaders who have lucky socks for competitions or they have to eat a certain food the night before. Even so, every time before we step on that daunting mat with the announcer shouting our name, we always sing our chant and shout our cheer together as a family before charging onto the mat from behind the curtains and giving it the best we’ve got.