Although the football game was the reason they came, many Shenendehowa Plainsmen fans remain for the Junior Varsity (JV) cheerleaders despite the freezing cold. Fans wonder how the girls can handle the weather in their little green and white uniforms. When the group in front of the stands begin their routine, filled with difficult gymnastics and choreography, the audience forgets the cold as they are mesmerized by the girls tossed in front of them. These types of routines performed at school games won Shen JV’s first cheerleader place, and a sizable trophy, at the Ultimate Cheer Fest at Hudson Valley Community College on January 27. The JV and Varsity teams took top honors in their respected divisions.
Being a cheerleader takes physical strength and endurance just like any other athlete. The season lasts from the second week of August to the second week of March. Trials for the team prove that the few girls chosen will be able to handle the workload. “(It’s a) long and grueling process,” said JV coach Jessica Abrams. “The first set of trials is for the football season. We condition the girls for two weeks, which means you have to run a 10-minute mile, 40 push-ups in 40 seconds and 40 explosion sit-ups in 60 seconds. “
This does not include the several other football and basketball games that the cheerleaders play in throughout the year. In addition, the team spends time preparing for competitions. The team tries to make it to as many competitions as possible, mostly local competitions, including the Suburb Council. “My favorite part of cheerleading is actually competitive season,” says Shen cheerleader Kayla St. Clair, “because the whole team has worked together to be something amazing.
When we get to the competition and kick it, we feel awesome! “In recent years, Shen’s cheerleaders have become stars in the sports department, even though cheerleading is not considered a sport in school.” It’s definitely a sport because you train really hard, ”says St. Clair. It’s not easy to hold a girl above her head doing crazy things for more than a minute. It just takes a lot of hard work and (a lot) time to become a cheerleader and that’s not what most people think it is. “Abrams says the cheerleader club counselors go through the same rhythms as other coaches in the school, helping to balance club status against athletic status with the cheerleaders.” We are overseen by the. sports department. We have the same safety certifications as other trainers, such as CPR and first aid.
We go to the same coaching seminars and we meet with the athletic director (Matthew Jones) to review the season ahead, “she said. Although the training is grueling and long, with only one day of leave per week, the bond between the coach and his team runs deep. “I watched them grow up. To see the huge amount of growth, it’s amazing. It’s like watching your children grow up. So many changes are happening and seeing their progress as people. That’s really the only reason I’m doing this, ”she says.