Cheer Spirits Fly High with New In-Person Practices


Jamie Cole, Contributor

It’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon at SRHS. Cheerleaders meander around the parking lot, waiting to enter the stadium for mandatory Covid testing. Why, might you ask? Because for the first time in six months, the cheerleaders of SRHS are having in-person practice.

“Our teams have never gone a whole summer without any practice,” Senior Yasmeen Manalili explains.

Like many other sports, cheer had been moved to zoom during the summer. Hosted by Coach Shawna three times a week, they worked on maintaining their strength and practicing cheers led by incoming seniors Amilcar Santamaria, Mia Fenner, Yasmeen Manalili, and Vanessa Jimenez. The upkeep of strength is important to these athletes, but only so much could be accomplished over zoom. 

“We haven’t had the chance to stunt whatsoever, so we are forced to solely condition and learn cheers,” says Manalili. 

Despite the challenge, the team has prevailed, working to host online fundraisers and spirit weeks, and taking the time to connect and bond with new team members. Tryouts this year were, as Shawna put, “quite an undertaking.” Through zoom, she taught incoming freshmen their cheers, dances, and more. After learning each skill, she watched each candidate perform alone in their home. The process was laborious but in the end, Shawna successfully built another generation of SRHS cheerleaders. Now, with the positive development of in-person practices, their season is taking a turn for the better. 

“My hopes for this season are to be able to perform at nationals for my last year of cheer,” Senior Mia Fenner says.

Her hope is not all in vain. Though regional competitions have been canceled for the rest of 2020, the team can still expect to compete in Nationals with USA Competition.“They’re going to host a virtual, national qualifying competition,” Shawna explains. Each school will send a video of their routine and be judged accordingly. After that, the details for the actual National Competition are still uncertain. 

“They are hoping to have in-person competitions in the Spring before Nationals,” Shawna says, “but they believe it might look different.”

USA Competition has made their conditions for operation clear. No spectators would be allowed and the only people present in the gym would be the performing team and the judges. The situation is not ideal given the charged atmosphere competitions usually create, but with the current circumstances, the team is grateful for any bit of normality. 

As of now, all SR sports are operating under the cohort system. To reduce the spread if a Covid outbreak were to occur, these groups will exist for three weeks to allow time for the virus to develop. During this time, temperatures will be monitored, masks will be worn, and social distancing will be observed. After those three weeks, the cohorts will return to Zoom classes for a week to allow time to move athletes between groups if needed. 

The future is still unsure for these athletes, but the reality of in-person training and a possible national win has sparked hope in the world of cheer. And, as senior Vanessa Jimenez says, “The cherry on top would be winning.”