by regan von ritcher
Multiple sports offer many different athletes the opportunity to showcase their abilities and skills from that team or activity. The local cheer gym, Intensity Athletics, offers some student athletes that perform in the not so known sport of competitive cheerleading. A few specific athletes on campus, and some new incoming freshmen, are involved in this high intensity and unique sport contrary to more mainstream or common teams on campus. With high school cheerleading becoming a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sport, more attention is being drawn to this team.
Not only do students participate in sideline cheerleading, but some also involve themselves in competitive cheer clubs to travel and compete around the country. With different levels of teams for athletes to try out for, this cheerleading facility only has room for the best hard working athletes on their teams. Sophomore Ashlynn Ellison on one of the higher level intensity teams said, “The most common comment I get from others is ‘cheer isn’t a sport’ and nothing irritates me more. Cheer takes a crazy amount of physical and mental strength from these athletes.” With ages ranging from tiny toddlers to grown adults, there is a wide spectrum of athletes and opportunities to be apart of a team. Depending on what team these athletes are apart of, practices range from a couple times a week to almost every day after school. Practices include warm up, conditioning, endurance training, tumbling, and stunting practice. With very large and important competitions on the schedule for this season, these athletes cannot afford to be unprepared. With the biggest competition of their season in Florida this year, these athletes will compete in numerous competitions before potentially making it to the Summit Championships.
The cheerleaders at Intensity love the family environment feeling and appreciate the support that both the coaches and the athletes give to one another. Not only have these cheerleaders created the opportunity to become successful athletes, but they have also created a new circle of friends to lean on for years to come. One of the head coaches, Ms. Sumer Dandan, said the best part about coaching is, “Building the relationships with the kids, watching the kids get new skills and just develop over time.” Some of these teams are created brand new with each new season needing lots of time to prepare for the competition season. Starting from a whole new group of athletes, the progression from the beginning of the season to the end is quite the journey. These athletes gain new skills and develop new strengths throughout each cheerleading season and no athlete ever finishes a year without becoming a better cheerleader. Hard at work, these teams have dedicated their time and energy to being the best athletes they can be and the rewards are extensive.
The sport of competitive cheerleading is not a commonly known one, yet some of these athletes have been apart of this thrilling sport almost their entire lives. These teams have practiced flipping across the floor or lifting flyers in the air because they are passionate about competitive cheerleading and how it promotes empowerment for those who are a part of the sport. Though these athletes may look pretty with their sparkly uniforms and bows, they describe themselves as feisty hard working athletes that dedicate so much of their time to this challenging and beautiful sport.