Junior Chloe Vancour (she/her) making a pose in the flyer position while
practicing their full-out routine.
The cheerleading team has been at the heart of school spirit, supporting sports teams on the sidelines and courtsides. Now it’s our turn to cheer them on as they head off to the state competition in Battleground, Washington on Feb. 6.
This is the first year cheer will be competing and representing Inglemoor as a competition sport, rather than just performing at games.
“I think that our coaches had been pushing for it for a long time, and just all the stones kind of fell in the right order,” said senior Ciara Sutter (she/her). “And this year worked out.”
Cheering for football and basketball season makes for less stressful practices than those of preparing for competitions. Those interviewed said that since the competition season started there has been a noticeable shift in rigor.
“In the beginning of the year, when we were just trying to work on learning stuff for football season, we just kind of goofed off and had fun with it,” said junior Kaylee Ross (she/her). “But now, we’re just kind of serious. And we really want to win.”
Not only are they taking practices more seriously, Ross said, but training has gotten a lot more intense. Some of this is a result of the several full-outs that were added to their practice routine. A full-out is when the team practices their entire routine to perfect its execution; it helps cheerleaders see how their performance will look at competitions.
“We just have the same routine for each competition, but we kind of change it each time just so it can get better based off of the judges’ scores and their comments,” said Ross.
Since competing comes with high stakes, something Ross said she was worried about in the beginning of the year was the arrival of new additions to the team.
“I was kind of nervous in the beginning because I just didn’t know. With all the new girls that joined the team, I didn’t know what the dynamic would be like. Once we started working on the comp routine and learning it, I was really excited,” said Ross.
Sophomore Ava Gothenquist (she/her) originally had some nerves surrounding competing but grew more excited as the competition season progressed.
“I’m happy that we did; it’s definitely a new experience. I know a lot of the girls were really pushing for us competing this year,” said Gothenquist.
For other girls on the team, like freshman Keoni Matsumoto (she/her), not only is it their first season competing, but it’s also her first year on the team.
“We’re definitely more pumped up for state. Football games are really fun, and it’s definitely got its energy boosts, but I feel like comps and state just really make everything more fun,” explained Matsumoto.
Cheer competitions are nothing like what you observe from the stands at football or basketball games. At games, it’s a performance, but cheer competitions often look similar to gymnastics meets and dance competitions.
“For five minutes, you start on one panel of mats and just do jumps and kicks and stretching and whatever you need to get yourself warmed up, and then you go to another section of mats, where you warm up all your stunts,” said Sutter. “Then, the last section is a full floor — so, the full nine mats — and you go all full out, so you do the entire routine through, hitting every single stunt, and then you have a two-to-five-minute break where you guys just kind of prepare yourself mentally, and then you go out and hit the mat.”
Before the team performs their full-outs, they each have their own pregame rituals. Many of the cheerleaders said they have different strategies to help get them hyped up.
“Drinking Redbull or Celsius definitely gives me a little boost,” said Matsumoto.
Ross also said that since cheer is a community-centered sport, she tries to incorporate that into her pregame routine before the team hits the mats.
“I kind of just talk to everybody, make sure they’re all not super stressed out or nervous,” said Ross.
Sutter said she’s glad cheer has become a competitive sport, and that the change of pace was a surprisingly fun addition to a sport that has already brought them so much joy.
“It feels more like we’re our own thing rather than we’re just meant to be there cheering on everybody else,” explained Sutter. “It just feels more official, and we’re able to have something that’s only true to ourselves.”