You’ve seen them on the sidelines. You’ve seen them on the field during halftime. You’ve seen them during pep rallies. But have you ever thought about how influential cheerleaders are? They are not just something to watch when there is a break in the action of a sports game. They help sports teams win. Cheerleaders influence the outcome of sporting events.
Cheerleading dates back as far as 1860 in Great Britain and entered the United States in the 1880s. Cheerleading originated at Princeton University. Johnny Campbell started conducting a cheer on the spur of the moment in front of a crowd of sports fans. He was so effective in firing up the crowd, that the team won. A decade later, Thomas Peebles at the University of Minnesota got the idea that cheering at football games could boost school spirit and inspire players to play harder to win for their fans, making noise in the stands.
At the Notre Dame High School football games, the cheerleaders are an essential part of the game and work really hard to motivate the football team. “I think cheerleaders are important for getting the crowd cheering especially during times when the team isn’t doing very well. This can motivate the team to score better,” said Amanda Kanlong, a junior on the Sacred Heart Academy Game Day Cheer Team. The cheerleaders were recently successful in motivating the Notre Dame football team to a victory! When Notre Dame was playing Wilton, the game went into overtime. Wilton scored on their first possession, going up by seven. Notre Dame had a chance on offense. The cheerleaders knew that they needed to fire up the crowd to get their team a win. With a cheer after every play, Notre Dame marched down the field and scored a touchdown! The coach gambled and went for a two-point conversion for the win, instead of the extra point for the tie. The cheerleaders saw what was happening and what was at stake, so they jumped off their crates and gave one big, final cheer to see if they could help their team. Notre Dame scored the two-point conversion and won the game, beating the undefeated, number nine seed powerhouse.
Cheerleading is not just the performance on the field. These girls train and practice hard. Practices start long before any sports teams begin their season. In fact, high school cheerleaders tryout in May for the upcoming year and work on cheers all summer! “A lot of time and effort is put into summer training to learn all the sideline cheers and learn to work together as a team before Fall practices,” said Amanda. From the first day of school until the first game, these girls are working even harder on perfecting their skills and techniques. The cheerleaders also continue to work on cheering in unison. Everyone needs to yell out the cheer as if they are one voice and they need to ensure that their timing is right, so their motions are synchronized. The slightest of deviation from one of the cheerleaders is very noticeable and not tolerated by the coaches.
Cheerleaders also need to be strong and powerful. They perform jumps and stunts, which involve tossing a flyer high in the air, cheerleaders called bases throwing them in the air and catching them safely along with another cheerleader, called a backspot. This takes incredible teamwork, coordination, and impeccable communication. One little breakdown in the process and someone can get seriously injured.
With all the training and practice that cheerleaders do, their performances, ability to boost team spirt with the crowd in the stands, and the talent to motivate the team to help them win their game makes cheerleading an exciting sport. “I think cheering motivates the team because it reminds them that we believe they can score,” Amanda said. Cheerleaders are a part of the sports team that is playing, and there are great rewards when the team they are cheering for wins a game. Their cheering definitely influences the outcome of a game, and the cheerleaders should be recognized for the influence that they can have on a sports team.
So, the next time you see cheerleaders on the sidelines, do not think of them as entertainment. You should respect them because these hard-working athletes are serious about cheering their team on and helping their team win. Cheerleaders are champions.