Blood. Sweat. Cheer.

May 31, 2016

  There are common misconceptions about cheer– it’s not a sport, it’s easy, anyone can do it, it’s only about popularity. But here at West Ranch, that’s not the case. Our three cheer teams work hard, year round, to choreograph, train, and perform their routines in front of our entire student body, teachers, staff, and parents. There’s nothing easy about lifting girls in the air, or being the one ten feet in the air with the fear of falling always in the back of your mind. It’s not for everyone. It takes dedication to your team and perseverance through physical pain. Unlike most sports, while you’re going through the motions, you have to look confident and have perfect form because the audience is judging you based on how you complete the stunts and how you look while doing it. It may not be a sport in terms of winning a game or match but it takes as much physicality as any other.

This stunt pod warms up some basic skills before advancing to harder stunts. Doing so will ensure that muscles are warmed up and there are no injuries.
This stunt pod warms up some basic skills before advancing to harder stunts. Doing so will ensure that muscles are warmed up and there are no injuries.
Junior Varsity cheerleader, Gaby Amaral, shows off her school spirit by holding up a school sign. This seems like a simple task, however, the flyer has to squeeze all her muscles to take pressure off the bases and hold on to the sign while getting catapulted into the air. This stunt not only pushes their bodies to the physical extreme but the idea of falling from the fullest extension is devastating. It takes hardwork and dedication to the team in order to pull off this stunt.
Junior Varsity cheerleader, Gaby Amaral, shows off her school spirit by holding up a school sign. This seems like a simple task, however, the flyer has to squeeze all her muscles to take pressure off the bases and hold on to the sign while getting catapulted into the air. This stunt not only pushes their bodies to the physical extreme but the idea of falling from the fullest extension is devastating. It takes hardwork and dedication to the team in order to pull off this stunt.
This advanced stunt is called a liberty. It requires perfect footing, stability and synchronization. The flyers have to balance on one leg nearly seven feet in the air. This also takes maximum strength from the bases in order to hold a girl above their head for several counts. If the bases are not on the same count, the flyer will quickly fill the gap of space between herself, her bases, and the gym floor.
This advanced stunt is called a liberty. It requires perfect footing, stability and synchronization. The flyers have to balance on one leg nearly seven feet in the air. This also takes maximum strength from the bases in order to hold a girl above their head for several counts. If the bases are not on the same count, the flyer will quickly fill the gap of space between herself, her bases, and the gym floor.
Sarah Callan, Varsity cheerleader, is anxiously awaiting to be flipped into the air. Even though they have practiced this stunt for days, the nerves of flying never get easier to swallow. One sweaty palm or flinch can send the stunt into failure, and falling down from a flip is not an option.
Sarah Callan, Varsity cheerleader, is anxiously awaiting to be flipped into the air. Even though they have practiced this stunt for days, the nerves of flying never get easier to swallow. One sweaty palm or flinch can send the stunt into failure, and falling down from a flip is not an option.
After the flyers are flipped into the air, the bases have only seconds to prepare a cradle for the flyer’s safe landing. If the bases cannot rearrange fast enough, the flyer is put in immediate danger. For this reason, the cheerleaders must practice tenaciously and diminish their nerves that reach an all time high during the count leading up to the stunt.
After the flyers are flipped into the air, the bases have only seconds to prepare a cradle for the flyer’s safe landing. If the bases cannot rearrange fast enough, the flyer is put in immediate danger. For this reason, the cheerleaders must practice tenaciously and diminish their nerves that reach an all time high during the count leading up to the stunt.
Varsity practices their cheers for the big game night. They already reviewed the motions and warmed-up their muscles so they can hit every move perfectly. While the flyers are staying tight, it’s the bases’ and backspots’ job to keep the stunt up for several counts. On the way down, the flyer has to keep perfect form and stay tight to prevent the stunt from looking sloppy and avoid any injuries.
Varsity practices their cheers for the big game night. They already reviewed the motions and warmed-up their muscles so they can hit every move perfectly. While the flyers are staying tight, it’s the bases’ and backspots’ job to keep the stunt up for several counts. On the way down, the flyer has to keep perfect form and stay tight to prevent the stunt from looking sloppy and avoid any injuries.
The five flyers are in an extension, the maximum height that they will reach while stunting. This requires that the bases’ arms are fully extended and locked. Because the flyer is in a vulnerable state being held up that high, and the bases have to have enough strength to hold her several feet above their head, it can be a very dangerous stunt.
The five flyers are in an extension, the maximum height that they will reach while stunting. This requires that the bases’ arms are fully extended and locked. Because the flyer is in a vulnerable state being held up that high, and the bases have to have enough strength to hold her several feet above their head, it can be a very dangerous stunt.
Cheering has its highs, like when the stunt hits and the crowd is cheering, but it also has its lows. Several times during practice, bases are hit in the face with high impact from the flyer’s body, flyers are accidentally punched by their backspot’s fist, and backspots are forced to break the fall of the flyer when the stunt does not work. In this photo, during practice, Alexis Francel got one of the common injuries that cheerleaders face; her bloody nose is a result of her flyer kicking her in the face while coming down from a stunt.
Cheering has its highs, like when the stunt hits and the crowd is cheering, but it also has its lows. Several times during practice, bases are hit in the face with high impact from the flyer’s body, flyers are accidentally punched by their backspot’s fist, and backspots are forced to break the fall of the flyer when the stunt does not work. In this photo, during practice, Alexis Francel got one of the common injuries that cheerleaders face; her bloody nose is a result of her flyer kicking her in the face while coming down from a stunt.
Throughout the tough practice, cheerleaders only get a few, short breaks. During this time, they quench their thirst. “Each practice, I go through at least two water bottles and make several trips to the water fountain to refill,” says junior varsity cheerleader, Samantha Hartung (pictured).
Throughout the tough practice, cheerleaders only get a few, short breaks. During this time, they quench their thirst. “Each practice, I go through at least two water bottles and make several trips to the water fountain to refill,” says junior varsity cheerleader, Samantha Hartung (pictured).
Preparation for the rally starts as early as seven weeks beforehand. That includes choreographing the routine and learning every step. Every dance move and stunt has to be in sync before they perform the stunt for over a thousand peers, teachers, and staff.
Preparation for the rally starts as early as seven weeks beforehand. That includes choreographing the routine and learning every step. Every dance move and stunt has to be in sync before they perform the stunt for over a thousand peers, teachers, and staff.

  There’s nothing easy about cheer. Most of the time, you’re smiling through pain and performing stunts that seem physically impossible, but it’s reassuring to know that your teammates are doing the same crazy things. Cheerleading doesn’t fit into a stereotype. For most girls, it’s not about popularity, it’s about challenging yourself to work harder each day. Despite all the physical pain, the thrill of hitting a stunt trumps it all.   

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Blood. Sweat. Cheer.