Being thrown up to 20 feet in the air, mastering back handsprings and flips, balancing on a couple of hands–these are just the works of a regular cheerleader at Staples.
As Captain of Staples Cheerleading, Jacquelyn Fritz ’12, steps onto the blue felt mat while the music starts, her feet immediately snap into position. As she thrusts her body forward, her hands pound on the matt as her legs are thrown over herself in the same direction. When she pops back up, she catches her breath, slaps her hands together and starts to chant.
“I’d like to ask anyone who thinks we’re just girls in skirts to try it themselves,” Fritz ’12 said playfully. “Anyone can go outside and kick a soccer ball, but not just anyone can throw up a stunt when they feel like it.”
One of the most challenging yet common stunt cheerleaders must perform is the infamous pyramid. Arranging for this stunt takes a lot of practice and contains a lot of complex concepts.
“We start out with two side groups and a middle group, and their job is to aid the two main flyers to get mobility and height in the air,” cheerleader Julianna Lametta ’12 said. “The flyers in the three stunt groups are used to support the top girls in the main stunt, acting as bracers. They use their muscles to assist the main flyer.”
Zoe Googe ’13, who has participated on the varsity cheerleading team for three consecutive years, feels that balance and unity is the key to their success. Googe says that if one girl is an inch out of place, she could drastically endanger the person standing on the cheerleaders’ hands.
“We have had our fair share of concussions and bruises from stunting, but so far our worst has been an ankle fracture from last year,” Googe said. “We were coming down from a liberty and Ilana Bernstein ’12 landed on it wrong, it fractured somehow,”
According to CBS News, cheerleading has recently been named the most dangerous female sport inAmerica, notifying cheerleaders everywhere about the major dangers and physical risks that this sport poses.
Throughout the dangerous stunts, Staples cheer works very hard not only to produce great entertainment and animate the crowd, but to enter in competitions as well.
The new Staples cheer coach, Avery Watson, says that the cheerleading team’s biggest challenge is that unlike other sports that can last up to two hours, cheerleading competition routines last two minutes and 30 seconds. This leaves a very limited time frame to show the judges what the team had been working towards all season.
“If we make a mistake or have a fumble, there is no second half of the game to make up for it,” Avery said. “We get one shot.”
Avery is very hopeful for the year to come, and is excited to be working with such a talented group. If they work hard enough, she believes they have a lot of potential.
“To me, cheerleading is fundamentally about three things: athleticism, hard work and dedication, and coming together as a team,” Avery said. “I know in my heart that we have both the talent and good work ethic to place very high at both FCIACs and States.”
Pump n Go
• Touchdown: Both arms are locked out and pointing towards the ceiling or sky.
• Liberty: Extended stunt in which the flyer stands on one leg while raising the other leg to the straight leg’s knee. The straight leg is usually the right leg; the bent leg should be flat on top and pressed tightly against the knee. The arms can be in any motion but are typically in a “High V.”
• Heel Stretch: This an extended stunt in which the flyer should stand on one leg, typically the right leg. The flyer holds her other leg in the air, close to the head, and in front of the body. The other arm should be in a “punch” or “diagonal” motion. The flyer must be flexible.
• Flyer: The person on top of the bases. Flyers should not be afraid to be up high or to fall. The flyer should hollow out her stomach and squeeze every muscle in her body. This takes some weight off of the bases and makes a stunt more solid.
• Herkie: A jump in which one leg is straight and slightly to the side like in a “toe touch.” The other leg is under the body and the knee should be facing the ground. Arms can be placed in either a “T” or a “punch” motion.