30 cheers in nine days
Spirit team working hard to prepare for upcoming season
August 31, 2010
MCHS spirit team at a glance
Heather Higgins — Second year
By the numbers:
• Four: There will be four freshmen on the team and only one senior.
• 20: Between varsity girls basketball, boys varsity basketball and varsity football, the MCHS cheerleading team participated at 20 home games in 2009-10.
Eat. Cheer. Sleep.
This has seemingly been the routine the last nine days for Moffat County High School freshman cheerleader Brianna Combs.
"It's been pretty crazy, " she said. "There is a lot to learn in a very short time."
Combs is one of four freshmen on the newly named spirit team. The frosh make up half of this year's squad.
"With half the team as freshmen we have our work cut out for us," said Patience Terry, the team's lone senior. "We've had to crunch, crunch, crunch, but the freshmen are coming along."
The task at hand for the rah-rah rookies is learning 30 new cheers.
"We probably had as many cheers in middle school," Combs said. "But we had at least two, maybe three weeks to learn them."
Combs anticipated that when the football team takes the field for the first time, she would share some butterflies with the guys under the pads.
"I don't know if I'll be as nervous (as the football players)," she said. "But it's going to be nerve racking."
It also has the potential to wreck some triceps. The spirit team will continue its tradition of doing push-ups every time the Bulldogs score.
Last year, the team did as many as 265 pushups in one game. Fitting then that if a girl makes a mistake in practice, she is treated to pushups.
Combs hasn't been immune to mistakes.
"I've done at least 100 (pushups)," she said, noting that high school cheer is more technical than anything she has experienced before.
"We can't break our wrists when we put our arms out," she said. "There are just a lot of small things I've never thought about and I mess up sometimes because of them."
The task of learning 30 new cheers alone sounds difficult, but this year the team is faced with a time crunch.
"We have a zero-week game to cheer for," coach Heather Higgins said. "The early game means we will only have nine practices to prepare. That's particularly challenging for incoming freshmen."
A zero-week game takes place the week before the traditional football season starts.
The shorter prep time also meant there was little room for a break. In order to be eligible for competition, the Colorado High School Activities Associations requires each team member to attend nine practices. That is exactly how many practices the team had before its first performance.
"We have a great group of parents who have kept their girls on top of it," Higgins said. "We've crammed in a lot of conditioning and work in these two weeks."
Higgins' team is down from 17 members to eight. The fewer numbers happen despite the fact that the dance team was disbanded this year.
"We didn't have any of the former members of the dance team join us," Higgins said. "There wasn't much interest in a dance team, so it was a natural transition this year."
Terry said there are benefits and setbacks to a smaller team.
"We have more one-on-one time to work on technique," she said. "But we don't get to build with the big stunts or technicality for our routines."
The culmination of the season is the regional and state competitions in December. The team practices on its routines for those performances throughout the fall.
"It's the only time we get to compete," Terry said, "so we take pride in our preparation."
Until that time, the team will focus on good form on their pushups and getting the crowd into the games.
"I truly think our teams play better when the crowd is behind them," Higgins said. "It makes us proud when we are the ones making that happen."