The lights turn on, the student section of the stadium overflows with people, and the fans roar for their team. The cheerleaders, literally and figuratively, stand on the sidelines while cheering on the NC Varsity football team, presenting the complex cheers and routines they worked on all summer.
Head cheer coach and freshmen biology teacher, Mrs. Katrina Toledo, works with a full team of coaches: Rachel Mercer, Becky Young, Cat Scragg, Courtney Thayne, and Kelly Farmer. With a total of six teams in the NC cheer program, the work never stops.
NC cheerleaders prove the old “cheer isn’t a sport” stereotype wrong. With tryouts in April and the season starting soon after, the NC cheer program does not waste time. During the summer, athletes in the program endure intense training, camps, and conditioning. When school starts up again, the girls attend practice every day, games once a week and prepare for competitions. Every Friday night, rain or shine, the NC varsity cheerleaders perform on the sidelines and cheer for the NC varsity football team.
“The hard work definitely pays off; every day we strive to do better as a team. We love each time we go out on the floor because we know we want to score higher,” Varsity football cheerleader and sophomore McKenzie Kirklin said.
Each NC cheer team plays a different role and caters to their own style. Football cheer consists of a clean and motion-based style. However, basketball cheer presents a louder, dance and attitude based style.
“I think everyone appreciates the fact that each person on the team adds their own aspect, and the team wouldn’t be complete without every single one of us,” competition cheerleader and sophomore Calise Adamopoulos said.
NC cheerleaders do not play around. The girls constantly represent the school as they perform in school pep rallies. No matter the team, all the girls work hard to support their fellow NC Warriors.
“We all love each other so much. We are together every day and of course, we get irritated with each other, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The bonds I’ve formed this year are sister-like,” Kirklin said.
Fans also play an important role when it comes to cheerleaders. The girls feed off the reaction and the energy of the fans that come to support the Warriors. Fan feedback demonstrates positivity and keeps the girls motivated when their job gets hard.
“We have a wonderful support system. We absolutely love to see our fans jammin’ in the stands. Their energy is amazing,” social studies teacher and basketball cheer coach Rachel Mercer said
Unfortunately, cheer will not last forever. Every girl will graduate and move on one day, but they will look back on their high school career and remember all of the amazing memories from now. Coach Mercer and Coach Toledo intend to help the girls build firm relationships with one another that will last for years.
“I just want my girls to have fun! It’s not always about who’s the cleanest or who has the best skill, but the sisterly bonds that they build with each other. They won’t be able to hit that high V [cheer motion with arms formed in a V shape above the head] forever.” Mercer said