Cheerleading adjusts to fewer pandemic restrictions


Arrowhead photo by Hailey Riexinger

Rising back into regularity…With fewer pandemic regulations currently in place, the cheerleading team practices their stunting as preparation for the competition season. Co-captain Mia Bennett is held in an extension.

With a sense of normalcy back at the high school, the cheerleading team is diving back into the football, basketball and competition seasons with fewer COVID-19 restrictions.
For the safety of students, access to football games was limited last year. According to co-captain Elizabeth Kline, there was a noticeable difference in fans at these games.
“Last year, in the beginning, only parents of cheerleaders, football players and band members were allowed to come. For away games, we were basically just cheering for the team, our coaches and the bus drivers,” Kline said. “There was no one.”
This year, students are rushing back into the stands to support their teams, forcing the cheerleaders to readjust.
“It has made me have more anxiety,” cheerleader Jacqueline McCoy said.
According to cheerleader Hampton Ramos, the addition of fans and more parents than last year is “very intimidating.”
“It’s a big change when you have empty stands and then all a sudden you have huge crowds,” Ramos said.
Additionally, the competitions that the team will be participating in are returning to in-person. Competitions occur frequently starting in November.
Last year, nearly all of these competitions were virtual.
According to Coach Rachael Renner, for online competitions, the team filmed their performance and submitted it.
“It was harder in the perspective that if you made a mistake you had the opportunity to redo it. At an actual competition you have one chance and one chance only,” Renner said.
Last year’s cheer team consisted of many seniors, meaning that a number of year’s team members graduated, leaving behind a group of girls that had little to no in-person competition experience.
“There’s a big difference between competing with spectators and competing by staring at your gym wall,” Renner said.
This year, the cheer team is planning to attend only live competitions.
The first step for preparing for competition is practicing, but that has also changed, due to a principal regulation that if someone was in contact with a COVID-19 infected person then there is a chance that others who have come in contact with that person can be quarantined.
According to Ramos, it can be very difficult for the cheer team when people are suddenly quarantined and out for two weeks.
“If you miss one practice you miss so much. It shifted things around and required people to be a lot more flexible,” Ramos said.
Renner said that last school year, before every practice, each person on the team would have to get their temperature checked along with having submitted a COVID-19 screening to the athletic trainers. This year, that protocol is not required.
Additionally, masks are optional for practices, while the coach is expected to wear one at all times.
With fewer COVID-19 restrictions this returning season, Renner said that where the team is standing is the most familiar place they’ve been in a long time.
“This season is as normal as I remember it,” Renner said. “Last year, snack stands weren’t open. Even some of the bathrooms weren’t open. This year feels really normal.”