Competitive cheer challenges teams to work hard

The announcer calls the cheer team’s name, and the crowd goes wild as the team sets up underneath the shining lights. The music starts and an eight-count mix of songs and sound effects fill the speakers for two minutes and 30 seconds non-stop.

“It feels like little butterflies are trying to fly away and your heart is beating fast, but once the music starts, that’s it. Two and a half minutes and you’re done, no redo’s or stopping,” said Mia Delucia, level three flyer.

Although the girls looked fearless on the mat, it’s a whole different story behind the curtains.

“I normally let the nerves take over me, but I learned to not get so worked up about the competition and just breathe,” said Alex Fenster, level three back spot.

For a cheerleader to be the best, they have to practice and be as perfect as possible, which has caused issues in a cheerleader’s growth.

“I struggle a lot with perfectionism. If my tuck doesn’t feel how I want it to feel, or if I feel I didn’t step far enough in my run and it’s held me back from trying to get other skills, trying to get that one skill perfect,” said Emily Tabora, level three base.

Although most teams think they are the best, there will always be other teams that their cheerleaders admire.

“I look up to Cheer Extreme, Top Gun and Cheer Sport Sharks because of how much work their cheerleaders put in to make their intricate routines look effortless just amazes me,” said Tabora.

Not only do cheerleaders get inspired by teams but also by individuals in the cheerleading world.

“There is one coach that I look up to at my gym, he’s pretty ‘over-aged’ but he’s still flipping like he’s a 12-year-old kid just trying to have a fun time. I want to be like him and tumbling until I’m old,” said Tabora.

If anybody lives a life in the white shoes of a cheerleader, something that would be noticed first, is that it’s easier to stay active for a longer period of time.

“Since the routines are two and a half minutes to three minutes long, it’s built my endurance and my tolerance to pain because you get minor injuries a lot in cheer,” said Tabora.

There may be some athletic and painful advantages, but there are situations that can put a cheerleader’s pain tolerance to the test, and it is a make or break for them.

“One time I was driving to my hotel for a competition and on the way, my family and I got into a car accident, and I suffered a concussion, but I still competed,” said Fenster.

Because of the popularity cheer has gained, people may switch from one sport to cheer.

“I see myself doing this for a long time and never getting sick of it. Coming from doing gymnastics, this is my best change,” said Delucia.

It’s cutting down to the final eight counts, the crowd is clapping to the rhythm of the music and the music finally ends, it’s over now and the butterflies are gone, only to return next competition.