Aug. 21, 2019 —Senior Amelia Wells is just starting her first year of cheer. She joined the squad because she just wanted to try something new.
“I’m going to be Senior Class President and I worked at my job for a year and a half, so I was getting bored,” she said. “I was like, ‘let’s try something new, something fun, let’s do cheerleading.’”
The Siuslaw High School cheerleading squad has been working hard this summer on perfecting its dances for the season, with the first home football game set for Sept. 20, when the Vikings host Newport. In preparation, the cheer squad has been practicing five days a week, four hours a day, from 8 a.m. to noon. But today, they took a break from their fundraising and stunts to talk about why they joined cheerleading.
Before cheer, Wells was a yearbook editor who was focusing on her grades.
“That’s my life. I wanted something completely different than anything I’d ever done before.”
And it also helped her being in front of people.
“I was really shy,” Wells said. “I didn’t want to be in front of crowds, I’m not like that. My biggest fear about cheerleading is having all those people watch me. Your heart goes into your chest and your throat starts to close up. Being a cheerleader, you have to be loud and smile through the whole thing. That’s going to be difficult and scary to see all those people and keep them excited.”
But she’s not going to let those fears stop her.
“Becoming a class president is the same, you step up and you do it,” said Wells.
For Sydney Hilderbrandt, shyness is the least of her concerns.
“Being really loud and excited, that’s my thing,” she said. “I did gymnastics when I was little and I started doing cheerleading a little after sixth grade.”
She took a break to focus on school, “but I was sitting around the house, just like, so lazy. I needed to get active. I went to PE and stuff, but I had nothing to do and I was like, ‘Why am I wasting my
time?’ So, I’m back in the game. I’ve missed cheering at games.”
Sophomore Kelly Phillips has been doing cheer since first grade.
“I love stunting and dancing,” she said. “I did dance and I love to dance, but cheer is like a whole bunch of stuff together.”
Phillips is a part of the “base,” which helps catch the flyers after they’re tossed in the air. It’s a big responsibility.
“You’ve got to catch a flyer, that’s for sure,” she said. “When she’s coming down, she can do something crazy and kick you in the face. That has happened before. If I can see that she’s going to do that, then I can stop her from it. If you don’t catch them, they can get injured. It’s put on you to catch them. It’s a really dangerous sport. But it’s fun.”
Freshman Jullian Norton “freaked out” when she heard she was going to be a base.
“I thought I was going to hurt someone,” she said. “Sometimes I flip and I accidentally drop Ari, but I try to catch her at the same time. I have muscles in my wrist that I never used before, so it hurts a whole bunch when I lift.”
Norton did some cheer back in elementary school but dropped it to try different things. She got back into it when she got into high school.
“I think it’s a little funny when I get frustrated with some of the cheers. Because when Brooke calls it, and I don’t know it, I get so lost. I’m getting there. At seven o’clock at night, I’m practicing at home.”
Sophomore Destini Teale got involved with the team because of her background in gymnastics.
“I wanted to be flexible. I wanted to walk outside and do flips and things,” she said. “I like doing a lot of cartwheels, flipping and learning about it. In elementary school, me and my friends would go to the field and just do cartwheels.”
Teale had dreams of going to UCLA to become a gymnast, “but that’s not going to happen. I started too late — I was 13.”
She started playing basketball in eighth grade, which got in the way of gymnastics, so she dropped the dream. “It was too much,” she said. But when she was asked to join the team by new cheerleading coach Teri Straley, she wanted in.
“It’s fun because the people make it fun,” Teale said.
Sophomore Brooke Olson agreed, saying that cheerleading feels like home.
“I felt like that for a really long time. It’s something I’ve done since I was three. My brother is a football player, so it makes sense,” Olson said. “I think it’s important for everyone to be involved with everything. And make new friends and socialize with everyone. It’s good for our teachers and our staff. It brings people up and together. It’s a part of something. We talk as a team, we laugh as a team — we are a team.”
Teamwork is what keeps sophomore Arrianna Brown in the game.
“I love how we’re already so bonded, we’re such good friends,” she said. “That’s what I look forward to in a team: a good bond.
“And we definitely have that.”