Photo courtesy of Danielle Peyton
The varsity and JV cheerleading teams competed at Fluvanna, Sept. 25. Members of the varsity team, juniors Maya Sarco, Mary Hermes and freshman Star Lecue were excited to be back on the mat competing. The team has been practicing in open gyms since the summer and placed first in Harrisonburg’s district at the competition on Saturday.
The varsity team practices everyday to prepare for competitions.
“We put in a lot of effort [everyday at practice] and [we have] tried really hard to get to where we [are at] to [be able to compete and win at] the competition. We had a lot of setbacks that could’ve stopped us from winning, but we all worked together as a team and made sure that when we got on the mat, we worked our hardest,” Sarco said.
For Lecue, winning her first competition as a freshman was exciting for her, as well as being able to have a final season with this year’s seniors. With this win under her belt, she hopes to be able to go to regionals.
“It felt unreal [to win the first one]. It was really exciting because our team [worked] together [really well] and we were all really happy [with the outcome]. The seniors were really excited that they won their first competition of the season,” Lecue said.
Due to one of the cheerleaders being unable to compete, Hermes had to learn her spot for the competition. She had never been on the mat before, since she has only done gymnastics prior to this year being her first year cheerleading.
“I was very nervous about replacing Ashlyn because she is a really strong cheerleader. She’s confident and knows exactly what she’s doing. Obviously I didn’t have to substitute with her for the stunts which was very helpful, but I didn’t want to let the team down and I didn’t want to be the weak link [on] the team,” Hermes said.
Over the past few weeks, the varsity team has had to change the routine and make sure everything hits, trying to get all aspects of the performance to work together for the competition. This has required all the girls to put all their effort physically and mentally into practices the week before.
“I was a little nervous because this past week, we’ve had a few rough practices where we have been really tired, but we all came together as a team and worked really hard. It was really deserved and I was really happy [that we won],” Lecue said.
With practices being hard on the team, they have started doing team bonding activities at practice everyday to try and get to know their teammates better.
“Trying to work together as a team [has been hard under stress], but we ended up fixing most things. We do team bonding activities, we have partners daily, [where] we roll out mats together, eat together, talk together and get to know each other, just so we can all get closer as a team,” Sarco said.
Off the mat, the team has prioritized team bonding activities as well to help the newer cheerleaders, such as Hermes, get to know their teammates better.
“[Team bonding has] definitely helped me get a sense of how people are outside of cheer because for 90% of the people, the only time I see them is at cheer, so I don’t really have a sense of what their personality is. [However], when you start to learn [about] somebody off [of] the mat, it helps you sympathize with them and learn how to work well together on the mat,” Hermes said.
Through the team getting closer and learning more about each other, they have all learned to have fun with the team and work together.
“I hope that we can all learn to work harder. When we set our mind to something, we always get it done, so I hope we can continue that and learn to love the sport more. We need to fix our mindsets and overall just have fun with it,” Sarco said.
Before the next competition, Oct. 2, the team will work to upgrade and change the routine to make sure everything looks the absolute best it can.
“The routine, [Sept. 25], went really well. I was really happy with the way that we performed, we went out and we were really strong,” Lecue said. “[However], we need to practice a little bit more [before we compete again]. We are making a few changes to make sure that our routine is going to be really solid for the competition this weekend, [Oct. 2].”
The team has become a family over the season, including their coach, Danielle Peyton. To all the girls, Peyton has pushed them to be better and has been a safe person that they can go to, at the same time.
“She cares about our mental health and how we feel, so if we’re hurt she won’t let us practice. If we’re going through something, she’s kind of like a mom to everybody,” Sarco said.
Peyton has also pushed them to do their team bonding activities which has structured the team dynamic.
“Coach Dani has made our team come together and [learn] teamwork. We’ve done many team bonding activities [that are really] benefiting our team [overall],” Lecue said.
To Hermes, Peyton has pushed her to be better and improve her skills to fulfill her fullest potential with tumbling.
“She’s really sweet, she helps you [through whatever you’re going through]. She’s not afraid to tell you what you’re doing wrong or what you need to fix which helps you improve, so that you know specifically about yourself what needs changing,” Hermes said.
The next competition is Oct. 2 at Harrisonburg High School in the main gym. The Streaks compete at 1:40 p.m.