Written by Newspaper Staff Reporter Lexie Hunter
Cheer is widely viewed as an easy sport. The cheerleaders developed stereotypes, good and bad, and many think of only half the sport. Most people think all cheerleaders do is on the sidelines, but what they don’t see is the competition side. Here at Allatoona, the Varsity Cheerleaders only had two sideline practices. Other than that, the cheers and band dances were learned through videos made by past cheerleaders. Head coach Annette Gratzer says, “I really think that the community and student body sees us as just sideline cheerleaders, but we also compete. We start in April and go to November with intense conditioning, tumbling, and practices. These girls are super tough and are able to be physically strong and also mentally strong, and I don’t think that people get to see that side of them!”
High school cheerleading is performed on a dead mat, which is about a two-inch-thick mat rolled onto a hard flat surface such as a basketball court. Although our cheerleaders here practice on a spring floor, a floor with springs to make it bouncier, they put all their effort out on the dead mat for competitions. The cheer teams’ practice schedules this year are Mondays and Thursdays at Stingrays from 4:30-6:00 and Wednesdays at the school from 3:45-5:30. At each practice, the team starts with a warmup. The warmup is 50 cheer jacks (jumping jacks with the cheer clean after each one), 40 squats, 30 tuck jumps, 20 burpees, and ten pushups. After that, the girls stretch for the length of their competition music, about two minutes and thirty seconds. The next activity is standing tumbling. Standing tumbling is flipping without running into it. The people who perform a standing back tuck in the routine do ten all together to a count track. An example of the timing would be the count track starting on 1 and counting 1,5,7,8 or 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 on a tempo. For standing tucks, the cheerleaders flip on three, stand up on one, and immediately flip the next three. The other girls perform a two to full, which is two back handsprings to a twisting flip, to a count track. Next, they mark through the routine. A mark through is going through all the motions but not performing any of the stunts or skills. After a mark through, they work on individual sections before putting it all together to run the routine full out.
The cheerleaders are given specific practice attire to wear to every practice. For example, on Mondays, the girls wear the black tank top, Wednesday the pink tank top, and Thursday is the grey tank top. All the practice tank tops are given to the girls. If someone is not in the correct practice attire, that may result in team conditioning based on the coaches. Cheerleader Avery Weeks says, “Our practices are harder than some may think. Our girls really push each other and strive to be region champs again. No matter how bad practices may be, as a team, we overcome it.”