Cheerleading amplifies high school experience, creates opportunities for involvement


Photo courtesy of Durwood Tenny

The varsity cheerleading team performs at the varsity football game at Lafayette against Hazelwood West on Sept. 24, 2021. For every football game, the varsity team performs a series of stunts while the football team kicks off the beginning of the game.

Caroline Black, Staff Reporter

When I walked into the gym for cheerleading tryouts in 8th Grade I was terrified. I was in a giant room packed with girls around my age, yet I didn’t recognize a single face. When I ended up making the team, I remember the varsity captain telling us, “don’t worry if you don’t know anyone on the team yet. I was new to the school and didn’t know anybody and now they’re some of my best friends.” I remember that moment so vividly because I wanted so desperately to end up in the same position as her, but there was a part of me that thought I wouldn’t get there since everyone already knew each other. To my surprise, when I compare myself at that moment to where I am now, I can definitely say the same as she once did. Lafayette cheer brought me some of my best friends and memories from high school. 

Now I’m not going to lie to you and say that cheerleading was always a blast. To be honest, it wasn’t. There were times when cheer practice was the last thing I wanted to do after school. After sitting in a classroom for eight hours, two hours of physical excursion and focus instead of going home and laying in bed was absolute dread. On varsity especially, it can start to feel as if it’s a part-time job. Forget one season. Tryouts are in March, practices are held throughout the summer, we cheer for football in the fall, and end with basketball in the winter, all to start back up again a month later. While it can be a lot at times, there’s something special about being with the same group of people throughout the year. It gives us the opportunity to really get to know one another and grow genuine relationships. Some of these friendships for me grew to extend outside of cheer and in turn, I’ve experienced some of the most fun memories I have when we’ve hung out together. Sleepovers, team bonding activities like senior photoshoots and brunches, trips to Target, dinner after practice and before games and of course, countless Starbucks runs are just some of the things that happen outside of cheer.

However, there’s so much more cheer has offered me other than friendships. It exposed me to what high school is outside of the classroom. While you may be thinking to yourself that you don’t care about extracurriculars or school activities, I can promise you that it should. I’m not the most extroverted person myself, and I can’t say that I would’ve had the best time in the stands at every football game, but being on the track and performing was the perfect way for me to enjoy the fun that high school has to offer. Getting to be a part of the football games, assemblies, basketball games and other events is something I am so grateful for. The last thing I want is to have regrets when I look back at my time at Lafayette, and cheer has allowed me to be there for it all.

Last, but certainly not least, one of my favorite things about cheer is constantly getting to try new and exciting, sometimes scary, things. Forget the actual cheer part. Getting to be thrown in the air and flipped around as a flyer during stunting is hands down the best part about cheerleading. If you were to ask anyone on the team what the best part about cheer is, I can almost guarantee they would tell you that it’s getting to stunt. Since we’re together as much as we are, we’ve been able to create a great amount of trust and support that allows us to succeed. We’re constantly pushing ourselves to higher limits to achieve more and more. It’s the best feeling when you execute a difficult and impressive stunt you once thought was never going to happen. 

I’ve stuck with cheer all throughout high school for good reason. I’d recommend it to anyone that’s looking to get involved outside of the classroom, someone wanting to make friends or anyone that just wants to try something brand new and fun. By all means, you don’t have to have prior experience or be on the team starting freshman year. If you take a moment to put aside the misconceptions associated with high school cheer and you find that it may sound like something worth looking into, I urge you to just do it. I know I don’t regret it and I don’t think you will either.