Photo Credit: Maggie Smith/Used with permission
Due to COVID-19, cheering for Academy girls (who cheer for the Jesuit Tigers) looks slightly different this year. With Varsity Cheerleaders practicing only once a week, learning the material and stunting is very difficult. With many new girls, new positions in stunt groups were assigned.
Alexa Rios (‘21) said, “Stunting has always been the hardest thing to me when it comes to cheering. I just get so nervous because someone can get hurt. I was chosen to be a new flyer this cheer season. It has definitely been super crazy for me, but I know things will get better with a lot of practice. I am excited to see how things will turn out in the future.”
The Junior Varsity team practices twice a week, but it is for the most part a completely new team. Starting completely from scratch, the JV team has learned almost all the material and has their first game Oct. 1.
Both teams’ seasons are cut in half because cheerleaders are only allowed to attend home games, which means varsity will cheer for four home games and JV will cheer for two home games.
In addition to limited practices and games, getting tickets to Jesuit football games this year is very difficult. Cheerleaders only receive two tickets per person. There is also no Blue Tide and the stands are filled mainly with parents.
This year, cheerleaders also did not get to take their Studio Artistry pictures or attend an overnight summer skills camp, usually on a college campus. Camp is one of the hardest but most rewarding events for cheerleaders. At camp, girls form new relationships while improving their abilities as cheerleaders. Due to the season not starting in the summer this year because of COVID-19, buying apparel such as new uniforms, socks, and practice gear was very limited. In fact, this year the girls did not receive new uniforms at all.
Gracesyn Moll (‘21) said “The idea of not receiving new uniforms is hard to grasp because as seniors we wanted to be able to have something new and exciting.”
Cheerleaders also are required to practice and cheer with masks, which takes away from the cheerleaders “smile and enthusiasm.” It is also very difficult to yell the cheers loudly. Many get out of breath while stunting, tumbling, dancing, and jumping.
Lizzie Newcom (‘21) said “This year can be kind of frustrating with all the changes and unknowns. We’ve definitely missed out on aspects of the season that we have been looking forward to like our new uniforms and cheer camp. We also have the added unfortunate need to wear masks during the game. Overall, however, I’m just happy we get to have a season at all.”
Every time the Jesuit football team scores a touchdown the cheerleaders are required to do push ups for the number on the scoreboard. The mask makes breathing in during push ups especially difficult.
Emmie Valdez (‘21) said “I don’t necessarily like wearing masks, it makes it difficult for the crowd to hear us, but in order for us to cheer and keep everyone safe we must wear them.”
On Friday, Sept. 23, the Jesuit football players had a game against Berkeley High School and won 25-14. It was over 90 degrees out, making it very difficult to cheer in a mask. Despite all the setbacks, the Jesuit Cheerleaders are thrilled to be back on the sidelines.