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A cheer for the future: Young cheerleading team develops skills over season

The cheer team prepares for their performance at the fall pep rally. For the first time this year, the cheer team began cheering at Archer’s home volleyball games. Photo by Valerie Moncada.

While cheer is not a brand new addition to Archer athletics, this year’s roster was a first. Comprised of entirely sixth graders, seven students began their cheerleading careers. The cheerleaders said they developed their understanding of their sport and grew their individual skill sets throughout the fall season.

Cheer was officially added as an Archer sport in the 2021-2022 school year and continued into 2022-2023. Fitness coach Valerie Moncada said, during the 2023-2024 school year, the team remained strong, and she has many goals for the future. The cheerleaders met on the backfield Mondays through Thursdays during the fall season. Each day, the team practiced for an hour-and-a-half after school.

Moncada led the team’s practices, which started with a warmup, and then the team worked on different cheer elements, such as tumbling, jumps and stunts.

“It was a young team … It was really nice to have all new students,” Moncada said. “They were all in the same grade, so there was a lot of bonding and growth happening throughout the season.”

Cheerleader Lily Bishton Kraus (’30) said, throughout the season, the formation constantly changed. The team tried out several different combinations before assigning permanent positions to each member.

“[The team dynamic] was very flexible, and everything was constantly shifting, but in a good way,” Bishton Kraus said. “It was always improving, and we were always finding ways to [be] more balanced and [put] people who were stronger at the bottom and people who are lighter and have been doing it for longer at the top. It was always shifting, but it was always for the better, and we always had fun.”

Moncada said it was essential the team developed trust in one another in order to have successful stunts.

“You are a team, and you have to be there for each other,” Moncada said. “You have to put a lot of trust in people, especially if you are putting people in the air, like stunting.”

Encouragement is a large part of the cheer team, especially the practices, Moncada recalled.

“But also things like being encouraging, for cheer and, I think, for any other sport, when things don’t go well. Being there for your team saying encouraging words.” Moncada said. “In cheer, when you to do a routine there’s something that we call Matt talk. So as you know, you’re doing something you say encouraging things like, hey, like, you got this, I got you, we can do this, and things like that.”

Moncada said that one of the best parts of cheer is how versatile it is, and she encourages students to try out the sport.

“Anyone who has thought about joining cheer, I would really encourage you to,” Moncada said. “There’s different elements that you can do. You can do tumbling, and you can do stunts.”

Although the team does not compete in cheerleading competitions, they have performed at home Archer volleyball games during halftime. Flyer Margaret Youssef (’30) said the fall pep rally, which was the team’s last performance, was a highlight for her and her teammates.

“The pep rally and the amount of fun we had each rehearsal was a highlight,” Youseff said. “Also, getting ready. It was so chaotic getting ready. It was really fun.”

Moncada said she has high hopes for the future of the team. She said the team performing at sports games during halftime was an important new accomplishment.

“Goals as in the future: to grow the program, to get more students involved,” Moncada said, “and maybe, go to competitions.”

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About the Contributor
Shae Killam, Staff Reporter

Shaelyn Killam started writing for the Oracle in 2023. She enjoys baking, cooking, writing, and playing with her cat Zevi.

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    Kylie TMar 5, 2024 at 8:03 am

    Good job Shae! I really enjoyed reading this piece!