fga_2151-2

Cheerleaders Elevate School Spirit

Junior Aly Satisky balancing gracefully on the hands of her teammates Photo: Fred Assaf

Junior Aly Satisky balances on the hands of her teammates.
Photo: Fred Assaf

Shaking bleachers and deafening screams define the atmosphere of Pace Academy varsity football games. The student section jumps and shouts in their themed clothing, filling the air with their game chants.

But the fans wouldn’t be as hype without the cheerleaders leading the way with their stunts and synchronized cheers. Fans are in awe when they see the stunning halftime routine, in which the cheerleaders execute flawless flips and round-offs. They make it all look so easy, but in reality, they have to practice for two grueling hours every day, sometimes staying even later when big events are coming up.

As for the catchy cheers, “some routines are easier than others,” according to junior Hannah Schrager. The classic “rock with the white and roll with the blue” cheer is one of the many chants that get the fans on their feet, but the more complicated ones are easy to overlook. The cheerleaders have to complete multiple moves in a short amount of time, and they have to do it synchronized, which is a lot harder than some people realize.

If you have been to a Pace football game, then you’ve seen these cheerleaders tumbling in front of the banner before the football team breaks through. You have to wonder how these cheerleaders can do round-offs and back handsprings quickly enough to stay in front of the rushing football players.

The only logical answer is that these tumblers have an amazing level of athleticism. The topic of cheerleading as a sport has been a controversial one, with some people saying that it doesn’t count as a sport, but people have to take into account that not everyone can do these difficult moves. “It definitely upsets me since we are throwing people,” said freshman Hayden Sample. “We work just as hard to do what we do and it takes a lot of determination, especially for tumbling.”

As for tumbling, it’s not a skill that can be acquired overnight. It’s just like perfecting your shot for basketball or getting down your backhand in tennis. Tumbling requires a lot of practice, strength and flexibility to pull off. “I have been cheering for ten years,” said senior Cameron Russ. “And it has pretty much taken me that long to perfect my tumbling skills.”

There are some tumbling skills that are easier to learn, such as back handsprings and back tucks, but learning how to do a perfect layout, full and a double full are much harder to learn. Cameron talked about how the latter took her a long time to achieve perfect timing and height. “Although it was frustrating, I’m really glad that I learned these skills and went through this process,” said Cameron. Cameron cheered competitively as a member of the Stingray Allstars squad for eight years and is still an active participant in the Stingray community.