Competition cheer adjusts season around recent executive order

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Both underclassmen and returning athletes stunt during the last day of competition cheer tryouts.

Rachel Phengsitthy, Social Media Managing Editor

Governor Northam signed Executive Order 72 which stated that those who are not participating directly in a fall sport will not be allowed to spectate. This includes sideline cheer and marching band. Although sideline cheer was taken away, there is still competition cheer. Coach Lisa Thurman coaches both sideline and competition cheer at HHS.

“[Practices will look] very different in a sense that we now [require] masks. If you’re a cheerleader, you’re screaming double [as loud] because you have to be louder in your mask. So that’s been a challenge [because we have to learn] learning to breathe through those. Our rules have changed as far as how we can compete, so that changes our practices. Obviously [athletes] come in and do the screening before they get here. We check temperatures and sterilize the mats before and after each practice. We’re sanitizing our hands and shoes every ten minutes, so there’s just a lot of in between time that is taken up,” Thurman said.

There have been new rules and guidelines for the safety of athletes. Before coming to practice, all athletes must fill out the COVID-19 screening Google Form. Upon players arrival, temperatures are taken as well. 

“We’re asking [our athletes] to try to stay at home and limit who they’re around so that they could consider the team part of their bubble, but that they stay within that bubble. [We encourage them to] try not to expose themselves as much as possible. Just the same things you would be doing anyway. We’re just now adding a team to that bubble,” Thurman said. “[There’s] a lot of sanitizing. We are apart from each other and we’re just making sure we do the health screens and keep track of those. We are still stunting, so we are having to be extra careful.”

Due to COVID-19, most of the fall sports were postponed to February. Most seniors who play a fall sport won’t be able to experience a full season for the last time. Senior Chloe Nichols is included as one of those athletes. 

“I’m most excited just to be around people. Due to COVID-19, I have only seen my boyfriend and one of my closest friends, but now that we are finally able to get back in the school to practice and see each other, it makes me super excited. Also I’m a junkie for cheerleading, and I’m just ready to get back to doing what I love for the last time,” Nichols said.

During quarantine, Coach Lisa Thurman encouraged the cheerleaders to stay active and prepare for their upcoming season.

“During quarantine, it was super easy to lose motivation. I made it a point to myself to go on a run at least five days out of the week and follow it with one of our cheer workouts that the coaches would post in our Google Classroom. I would also run through jumps in my backyard and make sure to stretch super well, allowing me to keep my flexibility. Consistency was 100% the key to staying in shape during quarantine,” Nichols said.

Not only is Nichols taking part in her last cheer season, but she also has school and work. Nichols is a CNA at Bridgewater Retirement Community, but due to cheer practice every day, she has to work on the weekends.

“I’m planning on balancing school, work and cheer the same as I did junior year. I will only be working weekends due to us practicing every week day to ensure I have time for practice and keep my grades up. Thankfully, cheer practice doesn’t start until 3/3:30 p.m., so I’m able to get a solid chunk of homework done between 1-2:30 and then the rest when I get home. Also, organization is key, so I’ve [made] sure to stay on top of what is due and completing assignments as they are given to me rather than procrastinating,” Nichols said.

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