Couldn’t Be Prouder

As their name suggests, they are at every assembly leading the chants. They stand poised at every football game on the sidelines. And they do back tucks everytime the players score — even if they did not have to do that many this year.  But the cheerleaders do so much more than stick to the sidelines of the boys wearing tights. 

Cheerleaders compete themselves. And, as I am sure you have seen, they even have a very large banner commemorating their pre-pandemic national championship win in the gym. They sport their collections of excellence medals and their coveted world’s white jackets. 

A stung group lifts up their flyer in practice. (Jeremy Garza)

The team appears to have all of the ingredients to recreate the subplots about stereotypical squads that exclude the main Disney channel characters. You would think that social hierarchies, public backstabs and ironic pillow fights must run rampant throughout the Eaglecrest cheerleaders, right?

“Cheerleaders in movies are usually seen as rude and stand-offish, and I don’t think that any of us fit that. We all have our own insecurities and our own comfort zones, which I don’t think people get a lot of the time,” Reagan Haworth said. “We are all our own people, and we get put into this stereotype that’s hard to escape.”

They are already humble to the world and kind to each other.

“The friendships that I have made through cheer are so important. They have lasted a long time. The new friends that I have made this year have made being on a new team so much easier for me,” Mariah Mckillop said. 

Teammates quickly become siblings, and coaches become second sets of parents in cheerleading. That form of trust is needed to do the stunts they compete with.

Cheerleaders create their own excitement during a quick transition in practice. (Jeremy Garza)

“The bond you make in cheer is strong; we treat each other as family. I see these girls every single day so it is important to make that bond. Everyone just clicks together,” Di’Vynne Smith said. “I feel as if people don’t really understand what we do. I think people still have the mindset of cheer only being a sideline activity when we do so much more in the program.”

As Haworth said, even cheerleaders have insecurities. They just want the school to understand that they are more than just pretty standing-track stars. 

“I would say that it can be difficult to have a good understanding of what cheer actually is, especially if all you’ve been exposed to is sideline or game-day cheer, and having no knowledge about competitive cheer,” Kaylee Holman said. “Since our program does both, it can be hard to understand the dedication, athleticism, and hard work that it takes to do not only one type of cheer, but both.”

This sideline box that the cheerleaders get forced into purely because of their uniform is nearly inescapable. It is also a challenge to get out of the overarching cheerleader box. They have practice almost every day, but they still try to find the time to venture outside of their teammates and be well-rounded.

“I have friends from many different circles all throughout the school. I obviously have my cheer girls, but I also have my choir and there are theatre kids that I am friends with. I have friends in my AP classes — that I’ve gotten really close with,” Ella Olander said. “I have friends and groups of kids all throughout the school that are still a part of my life even though they aren’t a part of cheer.”

The varsity cheerleaders of the nest know how that Disney episode ends — often with the captain learning they really are not that special. The raptor squad does not need to have this transformation, though. They think we are the ones that need the transformation. 

“You have to be a cheerleader to know why you do it,” Peyton Usher said. “Someone that just sees cheer, doesn’t understand the feeling you get from it, and why you love it so much.”