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Cheer, more difficult than it seems


Kemya Hopkins takes on new challenge on the cheer mat

A new year promotes new challenges and opportunities to learn about people, skills, hobbies, and more. Each month Feather journalist Kemya Hopkins challenges herself to go outside of her comfort zone. In this article, Hopkins challenged herself to try cheer for a week and get an inside look into a cheerleader’s day.

Four first place championships, third place at nationals and winner for best choreography and showmanship. The cheer team has been dominating the floor for the 21-22 school year. This month, I dared myself to step out onto the cheer mat, getting first hand experience of the pressures of cheerleading. 

The first day of the challenge was tough, as I wasn’t expecting the hard work and focus involved in everything they do. The team started off with stretches led by senior cheer captains, followed by a run around campus.

[/media-credit] Hopkins practices her toe-touches alongside the high school cheer team.

The most challenging aspect was learning difficult dance routines, which cheerleaders make up themselves. Rhythms were hard to comprehend, making it challenging to work in unison. By the end of day one, feeling exceedingly tired and worn out, I was not sure how to feel about the rest of the week. 

Senior captain Ashley Logan believes the hardship is worth it, as cheer allows her to participate in sports as well as cheer on others. 

“I think it builds more connections and it’s enjoyable to cheer with your fellow classmates in the student section.” Logan said, “We do stuff all year round like competitions and games, doing competitions and learning routines include lots of stamina.”

Day two began, I was feeling nervous about the upcoming challenge. After warm ups, we dove into the next difficult task:

jumping. The very first activity was stretching and leg workouts.  Shortly after working out the cheer team and myself got straight into jumping exercises.  As the girls lined up I felt timid about jumping in front of the whole squad.

The coach started calling out “1 ,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.”  It was time to jump. As my feet came back to the ground I realized the hesitancy I felt about jumping was needless. Even though training was miserable, the complicated move was made enjoyable by the team supporting you.

[/media-credit] Hopkins acts as base for a cheer routine.

First time high school cheerleader Grace Mynderup, ’25, shares this sentiment and enjoys the God-loving community the team has become.

“It’s easier to get motivated with a team and I love all of the relationships we have built together.” Mynderup said, “The best part about being on the team is you get to share about God in what you do and the love that everyone has with the team.”

Mynderup believes that cheerleaders are deserving of recognition for all the hard work they do.

“It is hard, people only see the outcome of what we do and never the hard work we do.” Mynderup said, “I wish people knew how tough doing cheer is and that it’s not super easy.”

The last day of my challenge was the most terrifying yet. It was stunting day. My heart was racing and anxious as I saw cheerleaders flow flyers up in the air. The coach put me in a stunting group with Gabby Hutcheson (flyer), ’24, Lindsay Logan (base), ’23, and Paige Deffenbacher (back), ’24. As Deffenbacher shouts her calls the time comes to put the flyer in the air.

My experience was startling, complicated and unexpected. After getting a glimpse into the life of a cheerleader I can confidently say cheer is a sport. It requires physical exertion and athletic activity for stunting and difficult dance routines. For anyone interested in cheer next year my advice would be to always have a positive attitude and have fun with teammates. Once you have an optimistic mindset it’s much easier to be on the mat.

One thing I can take away from this challenge is the team’s strong and motivating bond. The whole week they made this challenge enjoyable, laughing nonstop and creating a positive environment to be around. Every time an exercise got difficult or tough the girls would encourage me to keep going and stay focused. I felt like a part of the team, even for just the week. Tougher times are made more enjoyable when on a team.

With my third challenge complete, I’ve learned the strenuous circumstances revolving around cheerleading. Stay tuned, for my next challenge, learning how to drive with Taylor Beckworth!

Reel filmed and edited by Cole Blanchfield

To read about my previous challenges, go to Cours de Français; Sampling high school French class and Senior Ashlee Gallegos reflects on her time at FCS.

To read more from The Feather, go to Greg Stobbe’s life altered by cancer, visual impairment or The importance of media literacy in news consumption.

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Kemya Hopkins
Kemya Hopkins, Journalist
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    paige deffenbacherApr 28, 2022 at 11:07 am

    so good!