Unlike the majority of Notre Dame Prep’s athletic teams, the varsity cheer team has a season that lasts most of the school year.
First, they start off the season by cheering on NDP’s varsity football team on Friday nights and learning cheers and halftime choreography at their daily practice. After football season is over, the team makes a transition over to competition season, in which they compete their routines against other high school cheer teams. They also cheer on both boys and girls varsity basketball while the teams are in season.
Along with their busy schedule throughout the school year, cheer girls also deal with injuries that can drastically change a routine. When asking NDP’s varsity cheer head coach Kacey Hoyer how an athlete’s injury can affect the team, she said, “There are only a certain number of athletes on the team, so when someone gets hurt, it can affect what stunting skills can/can not be done. The routine typically has to be reworked accordingly.”
Sydney Thomas, a sophomore back spot and tumbler on the team, recently suffered a severe ACL tear by “doing a front walkover at a choreography practice.” She is out for the entire season. She said that when she got her injury, the routine had not quite been established yet, so thankfully, the team did not have to change the routine too much, but some of the dances and cheers had to be tweaked.
Going into competition season, the team has a lot of preparing to do, even though the season started a long time ago. Football season and competition season are so different in that “… at football games, we are cheering for the football team while performing sideline chants to get the crowd involved. Competition is where we perform a 2:30 specifically choreographed routine showcasing all of the elite skills the team has. We compete against a large number of other teams each time and are judged. They are the same in that we are representing NDP and promoting school spirit, while showcasing sportsmanship and the love we have for the school. “ (Hoyer)
When asking Hoyer what she does to prepare the girls for competition season, she said, “The team is being prepared for competition and the season by being safe, focused, consistent, and 100% committed at all times. I always stress safety and consistency, and each competition we always bring a routine that the team feels confident about. If the team can hit a 0 deduction routine and feel amazing about it at a competition, that’s winning within itself.”
In order to be prepared for this year’s upcoming competition season, it is important, obviously, that the team looks back on last year to see what went well and what did not. Hoyer said her “advice would be to continue to trust my instinct as the coach and always play to the team’s ‘magic.’ When you work with a team each year you get to know what works for each athlete and the team as a whole. Catering to what makes the team come together at each game and competition is what helps them become successful each season. It also is important for them to feel excited about practice and the team, because that will naturally push them to work as hard as they can.”
Lauren Chantler, a sophomore flyer and key tumbler, said she prefers competition season to football season because “we work so hard as a team and the feeling of winning something would be great. The competitions are also very fun. For example, we get to go to nationals in Disneyland. It’s really hard to decide between football and competition because they are both so fun.”
So far this season, the cheer team placed second in five-man and show cheer placed first in the AIA state qualifier. They also placed first in show cheer and fourth in five-man and qualified for nationals at the USA qualifier, which was held on November 16, 2019. Both events will take place in early spring.