‘Cheerleaders, you may take the floor’

Cheer teams travel to compete around the region

Emily DeClark, Reporter

The sideline cheer team hypes up the crowd on the homecoming night. (Natalie Garwood)

Cheerleading has by now earned its Michigan High School Athletic Association’s title as a competitive sport. Many girls take years of gymnastics in hopes of being on a great team one day. Once they earn their spot, they practice for countless hours on their own, and then even more when they meet for practice.

Last month, the JV and varsity teams traveled to Avondale High to compete, and JV finished in first place. Competition day is always busy for the athletes.

“We normally come to school,” sophomore Carly Sumner said, “and everybody gets ready and does their hair and stuff. And then we go on the bus and play music.”

Sometimes, however, the team preps once they arrive at the competition site.

“We all meet up here [at Utica], we mess around a little bit, then we get on the bus and warm up there and get ready there,” sophomore Rachael Mulvaine said. “We warm up in-between rounds. Twenty minutes, then ten minutes, so about 30 minutes total.”

There is a lot involved for the girls during warm-ups, which sometimes changes, depending on the venue.

“When we get there every team is warming up, but for districts it’s a bit different,” Sumner said. “They introduce every team on the mat when usually they just say your name and block off. We go to the back and warm up each round and sometimes you can watch the other teams; it just depends on when you’re going.”

Every competition has rounds, where the teams are scored on various aspects of their sport. While one round is completely about timing and moves, another includes stunting and how well they are performed. The team has some traditions they like to do before competitions.

“We do certain chants before we perform,” Sumner said. “The seniors do a tribe call. It’s a fun thing to get us ready to go.”

The team enjoys their traditions.

“We usually bring a speaker to all of our competitions,” she said. “And then for varsity they have a little stuffed animal all the teams bring. Before we find out what place we got we sit in a circle and all hold hands.”

Seniors leaving the program have witnessed many changes.

“Everything around me has been nonstop changing through my high school years, but the one thing that has always been a constant was cheer,” senior Marissa Barch said. “Cheer has had many ups and downs for me through my high school years, but at the end of the day I enjoyed all of it and am going to miss cheering with all the girls and our locker room talks and jam sessions on the bus.”