By: Frank Chen
At every school assembly, every football game, and every Girls volleyball home game since the start of the school year, MSJ spectators can find a group of animated girls dressed in black, green, and white. With a smile on their faces and pom-poms in hand, MSJ Cheerleaders tirelessly lead the way in school spirit. A couple of years ago, there were only a few students on the squad. In 2009, however, with the help of their new coach, Ashley Dollard, the MSJ Cheer team has been growing .
Cheerleading, just like any other varsity sports team, requires a lot of time and dedication. “Tryouts are held every year in May,” said Dollard. “I host a week long clinic where interested students learn three cheers and a short dance, along with how to do jumps (toe-touch, herkie, etc.) and some basic cheer skills. Everyone has their official tryout at the end of the clinic week where they perform a cheer, a jump, gymnastics, and a dance in front of official cheer judges from the United Spirit Association. The scores are tallied up and averaged.” The season starts during the summer, during which the cheerleaders have weekly practices and a 3-day camp where they learn new stunting skills, dances, and cheers. “It’s also a time where the squad does a lot of bonding activities and fun contests.” Dollard said, “Every day is a different theme, so it’s always a fun and crazy weekend.”
This year, the Cheer team is also planning on participating in competitions. On November 5, they went to the Washington High School Cheer Competition. In January, they will be attending theDeerValleyHigh Schoolcompetition inAntioch. “A lot of people don’t realize that cheer would be so much work,” Dollard said. “And the cheerleaders are now used to doing hundreds of sit-ups and push-ups and lifting heavy sandbags for training.”
As the Cheerleader’s fall season ends and their winter season begins, Junior Silvia Zannetti, MSJ Cheer Co-Captain, reflected on her goals for the team. “We have a young team this year. For our next season, we are going to continue working on our formations and stunts so that next year, we can help out the new girls on the team.” The Cheerleaders have also performed in a variety of community events such as the Aga Khan Foundation walk and the Chadbourne Halloween Carnival.
When asked about what she believes the Cheerleaders gain from being part of this team, Dollard said, “the first job of a cheerleader is to be an athlete. On this squad they gain endurance, muscle, and most importantly, they learn how to be a team player and to respect the students and teams from other schools.”
The Cheerleaders will be leading MSJ spirit in all the Boys’ and Girls’ basketball home games for the winter season. Their indomitable enthusiasm and never-ending energy will surely be essential factors in every sporting event.