Cheer team hopes to regain season progress and follow safety precautions

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BENJAMIN TYTELL/SAGAMORE STAFF

The high school’s cheer team, which would have competed in the fall, had the season postponed until the “Fall II” period. Everyone in the community hopes to regain their season while accommodating COVID-19 safety precautions.

Under normal circumstances, the cheerleading team would be pumping up Warriors fans and leading the teams to victory with stunts, shouting and gymnastics. However, because of the pandemic, many on the team have needed some pumping up themselves.

The cheerleading team, just like the sports they cheer for, has struggled in many ways in the past year. The team hopes that its Fall II season will begin soon, however, since the sport has not been officially approved yet, they don’t know when it will start. However, the team is aware that basic health precautions like mandatory mask-wearing and the banning of shared objects will be put into practice, and that certain, more risky elements of the sport will be cut or modified. Additionally, the team will not take part in competitions, meaning they will only perform at other teams’ games.

Coach Meaghan Cells said that the team will be working mainly on individual and team-based goals rather than preparing for competitions. The team and its members have had to adapt and cope with restrictions to be able to continue cheerleading even during the pandemic.

Cells said that certain key parts of cheerleading are not safe to do in a pandemic environment.

“All sports have different needs and different levels of risk associated with them regarding COVID and reducing the spread of this disease,” Cells said. “Cheerleading has different components. For example, there’s yelling for cheers. Yelling isn’t something that we should be doing, just like singing has restrictions on it.”

Junior Haylie Mejias, once one of the team’s captains, said that stunts, where athletes lift each other and perform together in close contact, may also have to go.

“If we did cheer, we wouldn’t do any stunts or anything, because stunts are really hands-on. We would mostly do cheers, we would do gymnastics, tumbling, things like that,” Mejias said.

However, Mejias said that even without some regular activities she would still love to take part in cheerleading.

“I enjoy being on the cheerleading team because I feel like it’s a good sense of community, and also the sport is really fun as well. You get to build a lot of different connections with different people, and so I really enjoy it. I highly recommend it, and it’s super fun,” Mejias said.

Tori Merritt, a junior, said that she loves the sport itself and the skill it takes, as well as the tight-knit community that has developed among the athletes.

“I like not doing it on my own, I like being able to be good at something; I’m always working towards something. There’s never an end to cheerleading, there’s always a new skill that you can learn or something new that they always bring,” Merritt said.

Merritt said she was disappointed that there hadn’t previously been a way for the team to meet, even with proper safety precautions.

” was the one thing that I could just use to get away from a lot of things, so it’s been kind of stressful. I think everyone’s taken a really hard fall on that because we all kind of depended on cheer for that,” Merritt said.

Senior Emily Lieberman, former captain of the cheerleading team, said that the team meant a lot to her.

“Being on the cheer team has been a very big part of my high school career,” Lieberman said. “I’ve been on it since my freshman year, and I’ve made a lot of really close friends in the cheer team. It’s been a good place to go if you’ve had a stressful day at school or if you just want to have some fun. It’s been a really safe, fun place for me to go to.”

Lieberman said that not being able to play has been challenging for her in the past year.

“It’s been tough. You don’t have a place to take out all the stress from school and you can’t see your friends in person, and I love the sport itself, so it’s also been hard to not do it.”

Despite being disappointed because of their inability to play, Cells, Mejias and Lieberman all said that the MIAA has been making the right decisions.

“People’s health and safety is the most important thing, so I believe that you have to trust your governing body, for sure,” Cells said.