A cheerleader, say supporters of the activity, is not just a pretty face.
It takes physical effort, monetary expense and commitment to be one.
All a cheerleader asks for, like participants in the sports they root for, is a little recognition.
“We put in a lot of hours and practice so hard,” said East Valley cheerleader Katie Woodman. “We don’t get much respect for what we do.”
EV earned it during the Universal Cheerleading Association Camp earlier this month at Eastern Washington University. The squad returned with 11 awards, the most among 17 participating schools.
Included were three trophies for superior squad cheerleading, including stunt and sideline cheering, plus eight superior ribbons for daily cheering competitions.
It was the first time in seven years that East Valley cheerleaders had asked to attend.
“I think it was worth it,” said squad co-captain Augustia Jolley, an EV senior. “It brought us together a lot.”
Along with Jolley, East Valley’s award-winning cheer team for the upcoming school year includes senior co-captains Katie Woodman, Carrie Bennett and Jill Rose, seniors Katie Sulpizio and Brandy Parker, and juniors Sara Carlson, Annie Bryceson, Lindsay Sams, April Jacobson and Lisa Roberts.
There are distinct comparisons between cheerleading and athletics. Both come under the purview of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. Cheerleaders and athletes attend camps, practice daily, and perform for their schools.
National competitions are televised on ESPN, the cable sports channel.
And the activity is strenuous. As in any sport, cheerleading includes stretching, lifting, jumping and tumbling. There are inherent risks.
“Your muscles get sore when we do stunts and stuff,” said cheerleader Jill Rose. “I tore ligaments from my ankle doing a toe touch.”
It requires athleticism. At neighboring West Valley High School, for instance, most of last year’s squad also participated in sports.
“When my daughter (a cheerleader) was here,” said East Valley advisor Kathy Ostrander, “she had a friend who played softball, volleyball and basketball.”
Her senior year, said Ostrander, the girl said, “I think I want to try the cheerleading thing.”
Ostrander’s daughter said she’d help prepare her for tryouts.
“They worked together for four or five days,” said Ostrander. “One day, when my daughter stepped out of the room, the girl looked at me and said that although she did three sports, she never worked so hard at anything as she did this.”
East Valley’s cheerleaders said they considered it an honor to be chosen to the squad.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Woodman. “It’s us getting the crowd involved and getting them motivated.”
Cheerleaders are, said their advisor, the most visible representative of any school. Their long days include two hours of daily practice after school and performance at a variety of athletic events, both at home and away.
“A few years back I clocked it,” said Ostrander, “and they traveled 2,500 miles in four months’ time.”
But it’s worth it when they hear encouraging words from someone like EV volleyball player Jenny Kann.
“I think they are very important,” she said. “The atmosphere they create is important.”
That, coming from an athlete, is a certain sign of respect.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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