Cheer Practice Returns While Socially Distancing

Olivia Rhee, Staff Writer

A sea of students in green blankets pack the football stands as laughter and cheering fills the chilly autumn air. As the Miramonte football team hustles off the field, the cheer team steals the halftime show with their impressive acrobatics, complex stunts, and fun dance moves. The dense crowds cheer on the squad as they complete their routine with a perfect last pose displaying cheerleaders both grounded and balancing in the air. Unfortunately, the cheer team has yet to experience performing their routines at games and competitions this fall sports season.

COVID-19 initially prohibited all Miramonte sports teams from holding in-person practices over the past few months. However, with the permission from the school administration, sports gradually returned to safe and live practices, including the cheer team. 

The tightly knit cheer community has managed to keep their strong bond over quarantine through zoom. However, as socially distanced in-person practices started up the week of Nov. 1, the team has connected even more. “We are starting in person, socially distanced practices through our coaches company, All That Entertainment. I’m very excited about them because I get to finally meet a lot of the new people!” JV captain Stella Symonds ‘23 said. 

Despite the delays with games, competitions, and events, the team does not express any less motivation to strengthen their crew as they have in past years. Both the varsity and JV captains have proactively organized Zoom meetings and assisted in-person practices to provide extra support due to the difficult circumstances.

 “One new thing we’ve been doing is having an in-person camp for those who want extra help with learning cheers and routines, which I’ve been helping my coach with. We meet in person, socially distanced and with masks, of course, during regular practice times, so half of the cheerleaders are on Zoom and the other half are in person. Beyond that, we’ve also been doing senior-led groups that meet on weekends to go over cheers and routines together and get to know each other, which has been really fun!” varsity captain Cara Holden ‘21 said.

While some cheerleaders look forward to rehearsing their routines as a group instead of individually, others are concerned about the risks that may arise due to close contact amongst the team. “In my opinion, staying COVID-safe is very important. I know a lot of cheerleaders are immunocompromised, their parents are, or they just like to be extra careful. There is always an option to stay 100 percent online for those who wish to do that. Personally, I would only feel comfortable during in person practices if everyone wears masks and we are socially distanced and outdoors. Safety is the number one priority,” Symonds said. 

As the delayed fall sports season kicks off, the cheer team’s priority focus is on learning all the routines in a safe manner so that they will be prepared for potential up-coming football and basketball games, as well as cheer competitions. “With Dec. 7,  the start of the fall sports season, approaching, the team has had to really focus on getting through new routines. Our goal has been to learn most of our cheers and routines over Zoom so that we can focus on making them look clean and together when we get to meet for in-person practices,” Holden said.  

Although future events are uncertain with the pandemic still existent, the team actively seeks ways to attend annual events that are still scheduled to occur. “Competitive cheer is now in the fall, so it would be at the same time that sideline cheer cheers at football games. This year we will not be flying to Florida, but we do plan on driving down to Los Angeles to do a couple competitions,” Symonds said.

As team sports take a step towards socially distanced practices, many cheerleaders are both cautious and excited about reuniting the team and recreating its strong connection. While the team has experienced some in-person practices, recent reports revealing a rise in COVID-19 cases have maximized the amount of virtual practices.“I really miss everyone being together! Even though we get to talk over Zoom during practices and team bonding activities, there’s no way to replicate the energy the team has when we’re all in person. It’s also been difficult to get to know the first year cheerleaders online, so I’m looking forward to hopefully being back with everyone soon!” Holden said.