Summit spirit squad building routines, reputation
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
FARMER’S KORNER – Junior co-captain Elle Eastman gets annoyed by the question. And really, she doesn’t see the need for her – or anyone else on her team – to have to defend their sport.
“We compete,” the Tiger cheerleader said. “Take it however you want to take it. It’s what we love to do and don’t judge us.”
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what a court in Connecticut did this summer, creating controversy across the country after a judge ruled that competitive cheerleading could not be considered a college sport under the guidelines of Title VIIII because of the lack of structure in a governing body.
High school is different, though, and in Colorado, there aren’t any arguments about it – Spirit is a sport.
“Colorado, through CHSAA, has a very organized spirit program,” SHS head coach Amy MacDonald said. “They have very strict rules and guidelines and a lot of support. Different states have different rules, but here in Colorado, we have very high expectations and a very supportive spirit organization.”
And at SHS, the team does a heck of a lot more than shake pom-poms after touchdowns.
With an 18-girl squad, the Tigers have what MacDonald called a very talented team, even though half the team is new to varsity cheer.
“I lost five seniors from last year, so I was expecting more of a rebuilding year, but it’s turned out much better than I had expected,” the coach said. “We have more talent than I thought we would have and more enthusiasm.”
And the Tigers have had a more grueling training regiment than in past seasons. The team hits the weight room before practice and uses its sessions out on the field to constantly pick up new skills and routines.
What most people see them do – standing on the sidelines at other teams’ games – certainly isn’t the only part of their fall season.
“At practice is when we get all the work in,” Eastman said. “At games, we are just here to support the school and help everyone out.”
The Tigers have two key competitions this school year – the Colorado State Meet on Dec. 4 and the CU Spirit Challenge in January.
Although Summit doesn’t expect any titles in the CHSAA competition (“Every year, our goal is to better than the last year,” MacDonald said) the event in Boulder is one the Tigers could possibly bring home a title in.
MacDonald said the competition is broken down into different techniques and facets of the sport, rather than size of the school. Thus, the Tigers can compete in categories that best suit their abilities.
“At CU, we expect to walk home with a good place – first, second or third place,” the coach said.
More importantly, MacDonald said the competitions on the Tigers’ schedule is more to “build leadership and build confidence and give these girls a competitive environment.”
Confidence is the key, MacDonald said.
“That’s one thing I try to do for them,” she said. “If you’re going to be in this program, I want you to learn how to be responsible and confident in yourself, confident in what you’re doing and not be afraid to go in front of people and do what you love to do.”
Senior co-captain Nicole Ransberger said that’s what exactly what the Tigers try to do, and if anyone tries to belittle their sport, she has a message for them.
“It’s dancing, it’s gymnastics, it’s studying, and it’s way more than just yelling,” she said. “It’s more than what people think it is, and it’s harder than people think it is. We always just say to people, if they don’t think it’s hard, then why don’t you try to do it?”
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