There’s more to cheerleading than pom-poms

Senior shares the experience of not cheering for the first time in high school

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Photo by Rachel Lewis

Story by Anneliese Hounsel, sports editor

Huge bows, crinkly pom-poms and thick uniforms defined my life for the first three years of high school. Cheerleading was not just an extracurricular activity—our coach and sponsor made sure that it was an environment where we not only grew as students, but as leaders and young women as well.

When you’re a cheerleader, you are held accountable for much more than being on the sidelines of a game. Organization becomes your best friend. There are tons of events and appearances that you must attend and at times, there are more than one in a day, so you must stay on top of your agenda.

Cheerleading teaches you the importance of reaching out to and being a leader in your community. Your attendance and smile at a community function carries a heavy impact in others’ lives. Doing crafts and playing games with children pulled my heart strings knowing that we were making a difference in the lives of the community.

That being said, numerous hours were also spent serving adults of our community by bagging groceries at Community Cafe or cheering on lively women as they walked in the Race for the Cure.

We centered our performances and supports towards every organization possible, not just sports teams. To be a cheerleader is to be a school leader, and to be a school leader is recognizing that our student body is full of diverse talents, and that each of those talents deserve attention. My favorite memories of cheer are probably the looks on the athletes, band members and students faces when we shimmied our poms and hollered in honor of them.

Being a part of the cheer squad transformed me into a young woman of poise and purpose. Our coach and sponsor made sure that we were aware of their support for us individually. Also, they were willing to help us in any manner. Standards were high and we were expected to reach, maintain and go above and beyond those that were set. Maturity and respect came at a huge cost when that uniform was on my body.

Being a part of the cheer squad transformed me into a young woman of poise and purpose.”

— Anneliese Hounsel

Now, for my senior year, I have retired my pom-poms and uniform. At first, the transition was strange when my first period class didn’t begin by stretching and nerves didn’t set in for the first pep rally performance. As the weeks have passed by, I’ve gotten use to the flow of things. I have adjusted and taught myself how to apply everything I learned in cheer to my normal high school life.

Senior year has been hectic since the first week. My classes are all either AP or Dual Credit and those require intense organization. If it hadn’t been for cheer at the beginning of my high school career, I don’t think I would know how to plan ahead and be prepared for upcoming events. I’m thankful that I was taught early on to find an equilibrium for my time and to manage it enough where things get done when they are supposed to be.

This year, a bunch of my time is going towards the school’s leadership program and their involvement in the community. Some kids do this because it’s required, but I now see this community service that we do as a privilege. It has grown into a passion. Not only will I apply it to the rest of this year, but to the rest of my life. Others come first, and that’s a lesson that I’ll carry out that cheer taught me.

Organization, community service, self perception and presentation are all things that I have found vital still even outside of cheer. Everyday one of these concepts comes into play in my life, academically or not. I never would’ve guessed that I would take away lessons learned in cheer and apply them later and in different areas, but I have and I’m thankful for that.