Cheer finishes first competition of the year, prepare for future ones with time to grow


Sid Tandel and Dany T Medhin

The HHS Competition Cheer team posing together after their competition on March 17, 2021.

Riley Thompson, Print Editor in Chief

On Wednesday, March 17, the JV and varsity competition cheerleading teams participated in their first competition of the year. Varsity placed fifth and JV was not allowed to place, but they did compete. Sophomore Lizzie Gotay and junior Haylee Smith on the varsity competition team and eighth graders Ava Nelson and Star Lecue on the JV competition team agree that both teams have a lot to work on before the next competition, but were proud of how far they have come in such a short time. 

“I feel like everyone on the team gave everything they had on the mat. Every team did a good job. I also feel like there’s always things to improve on, there’s always timing that we have to improve on and jumps, all that stuff. We’re never perfect, and there’s always room for improvement,” Gotay said. 

While [Smith] hopes to improve on being more precise with her motions, she thinks the team worked really hard on everything in the short amount of time they had to prepare.

“We tried our hardest and worked our butts off and got 5th place, [so that was kind of disappointing] but there were places where we should’ve been tighter and sharper. At the end of the day though, we’re having fun and doing what we love,” Smith said. 

Working on jumps and stunting so everything is timed better is one of the things Nelson thinks the team should work on before the next competition.

“I think our stunts and jumps could definitely be better. There’s things we could work on there, so that’s what we’ll focus on for our next competition. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. You can always be better than your first performance. Although, I think everyone tried their best and we all did what we could,” Nelson said.

The varsity team is trying to focus on staying together and like Nelson said, always improving and practicing to make the routine even better. 

“We are trying to improve on staying together in the routine. We are trying to improve on the cheer stunts, of course, there’s always room for improvement in everything we do,” Gotay said. 

The COVID-19 guidelines have changed some aspects of the competition. Usually, the team sits in the stands and watches the other teams compete; however, this isn’t allowed this year due to restrictions on the amount of people allowed in the gym. 

“We [try to] think when we go out with people [about the potential consequences]. We try to think about the team. Now, you can’t just go hanging out with anybody. You have to think. You know it doesn’t just affect one friend, it doesn’t just affect me, if I get sick, it affects the whole team. With competition, if one person is not in practice then nothing goes,” Gotay said. 

Due to COVID-19 guidelines, there was no sideline cheer team this year for football or basketball. This was a big change for Smith and Gotay who are used to doing both competition and sideline at the same time. 

“I feel like it’s two different things. I really miss that game day feeling. It’s really different being on the stands, than being very close to the field. All that is kind of sad that we don’t get to do [sideline cheer] and it’s hard to see other schools being able to [cheer for football], and that we’re the only school that doesn’t have a sideline team,” Gotay said. 

For Smith, not being able to be there for the football team is one of the hardest things, especially since the upperclassmen have been cheering them on for a long time. 

“I’m pretty upset about [not having a sideline team] because I felt like I lost somewhat of a part of me. Being able to cheer the boys on and being with them throughout everything were the memories I wanted to keep, but this is the seniors’ last year, so I just wish they would’ve gotten that experience. I’m just glad we still have our competition season,” Smith said. 

Both JV and varsity have had very little time to prepare for their first competitions. This has been stressful for both Gotay and Nelson. 

“It’s definitely stressful [trying to prepare for a competition in such little time]. There [are] girls that have never done cheer before and there’s some of us that have done it for years. I think we did a good job of working together and figuring out the routine together,” Nelson said. 

Getting stunt groups to work and figuring out difficulties quickly has also been stressful for Gotay and the varsity cheer team with teammates not being able to come to practice due to illnesses. 

“[The hardest part is really getting] flyers to trust new bases while stunting [in a short amount of time]. Also, Tuesday, one of our bases got sick, and she ended up in the hospital, and we had to make a really quick change, and thank God it worked out. That’s just with competition you have to find a new way for it to work no matter what. And the hardest part is just making sure everything works the way it should,” Gotay said. 

Transitioning onto the high school team hasn’t been too much of a challenge for Nelson and Lecue. Learning the routine came easier to them because they had prior experience in all-star cheer

“I’d say the transition [onto the high school team] has been pretty easy. I would say learning the routine and getting all the counts down has been the easiest thing for me. I used to do all-star cheer, so the routines were a lot more complicated and more steps to the routines so I think that helped me start picking things up quicker. [The transition has felt pretty] normal to me, I don’t have any difficulties with the team. They’re all very welcoming and sweet people,” Nelson said. 

Having a team to look up to and strive to do things they can do has really encouraged Lecue. 

“[The transition] has been really good. The team has been very welcoming and the varsity team is so nice and are there supporting us everyday just like how we support them. It has been so fun to look up to the varsity team and their accomplishments,” Lecue said. 

The most difficult part for Nelson has been her tumbling passes and adjusting to wearing a mask while trying to keep her breath. 

“The tumbling [is] probably [the hardest part] because I tumble back to back so it’s hard for me to catch my breath in between different tumbling passes. The mask doesn’t make it any [easier],” Nelson said. 

Along with mask difficulties with tumbling, Smith finds it hard to project her voice during the routine, behind a mask. 

“[The routine is] harder because of the masks, so we really have to project our voices louder than before. We [also] can’t do the types of stunts we did last year so we have to really hit everything sharp and tightly [to make up for that]. [The COVID-19 guidelines] are also really strict, so we have to always be [distanced] apart except for stunting,” Smith said. 

For Gotay, not having a crowd and not being able to watch the other teams compete has been really difficult. 

“It was very different to not have a huge crowd there. Even though not many people would come to the competitions [last year], it still was a huge crowd and it was weird not to see other teams perform right there and also not being able to cheer them on. It was really weird, but our families were there, or whoever you chose to go with you and it felt really good. When you step on the mat that feels really great, because you just forget about everything, every problem in the world, and you just know what you’re supposed to do, it comes naturally to you,” Gotay said. 

Stepping on the mat and just knowing what you’re supposed to do is a common feeling for a lot of the upperclassmen who have been cheering for a few years. 

“I love the adrenaline, but as soon as I stepped on the mat, all the worry went away and I had fun,” Smith said. 

One of the main things that has gone well in Gotay’s opinion is being able to come to practice and everyone is ready to go and motivated to make things work. Gotay thinks this is due to the amount of seniors on the team and them being motivated to do well in their last year at the high school. 

“Last year, stunts would take forever to go up and figuring out who would go where [also took a long time]. This year, I feel like we were just so ready, and we didn’t have any preseason or tryouts, we just went straight into it and we were ready. I feel like since most of our team is seniors, this year they were more like, ‘It’s my senior year, I actually have to put in the work.’ I feel like everything’s going easier this year with people stepping up when asked to step up and actually putting their all into whatever was asked of them. We have also all became closer this year because we get to hang around each other and nobody else,” Gotay said. 

Nelson and Lecue plan on continuing cheering throughout high school and maybe trying sideline if it becomes an option next year depending on COVID-19 guidelines. 

“I think I’ll definitely keep cheering throughout high school, I love cheering. I’ve never done sideline before, so if it’s an option next year I’ll probably try it,” Nelson said. 

Becoming a role model for younger cheerleaders like the varsity team has been to her is something that is really important to Lecue. 

“Next year and for the rest of my time at HHS I plan to do competition and sideline cheer. I would love to eventually become the role models the varsity team has been to me,” Lecue said.