by Jada Ingleton and Izabella Perez
Hundreds of competitors, supporters and rivals’ eyes are glued to the performers’ every movement as she strides through her transitions and stunts. The sound of a boastful cheer mix set to a usual 8-count routine blare through nearby speakers, sparking the room with energy. Much like any other activity, competitive cheerleading can come with its fair share of risks and peril. However, it continues to offer cheerleaders the opportunity to shine and strive for success. West Broward’s competition team is surely no different.
Going on their seventh year of competing, the West Broward cheerleading competition team has shown both promise and potential in their time spent on the mats. Every year, spring tryouts are held in preparation for the busy and bustling season. While some teams may get off-season time away, the lady Bobcats spend most of their summer and early in the school year preparing. They are in prep mode bonding, conditioning, and working up the strength and strategies needed to hit the competitive scene.
“Most people might dread having to come back to school throughout the summer, especially if it means having to work out early in the morning and get sore off it. But when you’re doing it with a team, it really does not seem as bad,” said senior team member Michaela Freeman. “We know in advance what competition season entails. All the hard work and time put in from way back in Aug. is only used to strengthen us individually and as a group.”
One of the team’s main goals is to work as a unit. Communication is key when going over stunts and routines, especially during Sept. through Apr. competition season. Helping each other with warm-ups and stretches in preparation for the stunts about to be done is one of the crucial ways the team assists each other. When going over routines, the other cheerleaders watch the bases and flyers in order to give feedback on what might need to be fixed and how they can improve aspects of the routine as a whole and individually.
“We try to keep each other motivated every day, saying to give it your all,” said sophomore flyer Victoria Vazquez. “Not just for yourself, but for the whole team as well. There’s always room for improvement.”
The Bobcats are constantly in game mode. They use every practice and opportunity possible to not only improve their routines and stunts but also inch their way closer towards an accomplishing title. Aside from the opinions and efforts from their own coaches, the team also participates in mini-competitions, nicknamed mini-comps, where they get a chance to be evaluated based on their executing performance.
“Mini-comps don’t necessarily give places or ranks, but we do get a paper with feedback on our performance: what we excelled in, what we did wrong, things like that,” Freeman said. “We try to do as many as possible to get a leg up before the bigger competitions to see what areas we need to work in and how to make our routine overall better.”
The competition cheer team is the only team that competes; however, the junior varsity (JV) and varsity teams only performing at games. These three teams not only differ in the fact that they compete but also in the level of difficulty. The competition team consists of competing with a full routine with a variety of different and advanced skills like elite stunting, jumping and dancing. No matter the fact that JV and varsity cheer teams do not participate in competitions, they work hard when cheering for the West Broward boys football team.
“Competition team is different than sideline cheer because you learn and perform more advanced skills than what you would do at a football game,” said sophomore team member Cassie Aguiar. “You’re really coming together as a team and working as a whole to put your best performance out on the mat.”
With years of growth, improvement and experience, West Broward’s competitive cheer team continues to expand their horizons and offer their audience one electrifying performance after another. From tumbling mats to one man stunts, the team identifies the strength and courage it takes to compete and how a positive support system can ease the workload and inspire greatness.
“We’re all very close on the team,” Vazquez said. “I think having a solid bond between the other cheerleaders helps a lot when performing and practicing as you know you have a whole team of people that have your back and will support you through your stunts.”
Cheer is not in any way an easy sport. Just like any other sport, it’s high stress and high stakes. The pressure of having to nail every stunt perfect one’s motions can be taxing on some cheerleaders, but no matter the stakes the West Broward cheerleaders always manage to strike gold.
“It’s so important to keep a positive attitude when competing because not everything will turn out how you’d imagined. Advice I would give to keep positive is to never say the words ‘I can’t.’ By saying those words you’re just putting yourself down and that type of energy won’t get you far,” said Aguiar. “Having a negative outlook won’t do any good for yourself or the team. Keeping positive and persevering is what will.”