Competition cheer in a Pandemic? This has been a big question amongst many cheer coaches and teams. Cheerleader Rachel Beckmeyer, seventh grader, said, “A couple things about cheer that will be different this year will be tumbling with masks, shouting cheers with masks on, and since there will only be half the amount of people on each team, we have to be louder and clearer.” Stunting is a big part of cheer and that is something that cheerleaders will have restrictions on what they are able to do.
Competition cheer requires very close contact when stunting because the two bases, side and main, have to hold the flyers feet in the air which means the bases have to be in close contact. Since doing a whole routine of stunting, cheering, and tumbling is very exhausting, cheerleaders would probably not wear masks during their routines. All competitions this year were cancelled except for one in January. Stunting will be limited on what cheerleaders can do based on regulations.
Sideline cheer has been planned out on what the team will do. Mrs. Cyndi Studer, one of the middle school coaches, said, “We will have tryouts separated into pods of 10. There will be grade drop offs with 10-minute lapses between grades. USA cheer is allowing stunting as long as groups stay consistent which means no switching of bases, flyers or back spots. After tryouts, practices were split up into each grade. Games are separated into two teams. The Tuesday team and the Thursday team have eight people on the sideline instead of 16.” Cheerleader Chloe Crisler, seventh grader, said, “I really wish we could stunt this year because I worked so hard last year to get my stunting skills better. I don’t get to do any of that this year.” Sideline will be different this year.
Jr. cheerleading is a program that cheers for Jr. football. This program offers a great cheer experience for kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. Recently, Jr. cheer made the decision to only let the fifth and sixth grade team and the seventh and eighth grade teams perform at games. Cheerleader Chaney Russell, sixth grader, said, “Our grade level team isn’t allowed to stunt this year which was my favorite part. We have to be distanced when cheering. We also have to focus on jumps and tumbling a lot more this year.” The seventh and eighth grade cheerleaders are allowed to stunt with masks and both teams have been working on halftime routines each week at practice. Games were confirmed to start and that is when the cheerleaders were able to perform.
Even though Covid-19 is a threat, the cheerleaders, coaches and parents are determined to have a season as close to “normal” as possible.