The Case for Bringing Back Cheerleading

In today’s climate, it is more common to hear people describe cheerleaders in a negative light rather than referring to them as serious athletes. Oftentimes, people minimize the rigor of the sport by focusing on clichés like short skirts, high ponytails, and bubbly energy, rather than persistence or hard work. Yet cheerleading takes time, skill and dedication. It simultaneously nurtures leadership, sportsmanship, responsibility and self-confidence in addition to its significant physical rewards. For these reasons, RE should consider reviving cheerleading as an extracurricular activity. 

Contrary to popular belief, cheerleaders are not just there for moral support while the athletes play on the field. The dancing, stunts, and tumbles that cheerleading consists of requires stamina, back-to-back practice, and endurance. Although routines are typically not longer than two or three minutes, daily practice results in a successful cardio workout. Competitive cheerleading consists of several hours of practice daily.  

Cheerleading offers an opportunity for driven students to acquire leadership skills. There are many ways to take on leadership roles within a squad, even if it’s not the team leader or captain role. For example, one could offer advice to fellow teammates, help improve their form, set a positive energy and environment with their mood or serve as an example of hard work and discipline. Members of the squad rely on each other for the success of their routines and ensure each other’s safety during risky, challenging moves. These skills can be carried on into the rest of their lives and help them succeed outside of cheerleading. It also appeals to students who prefer a different kind of physical activity beyond traditional sports. 

Cheerleaders were and are expected to be dedicated students, productive members of their community, spirited, and admirable role models. There’s a lot of pressure to represent the school community and represent the squad in a good light, explained Julia Abadin, a former Immaculate La Salle High School cheerleader. If cheerleading boosts school spirit and enforces academic and personal excellence, why shouldn’t it be included in our community? 

Cheerleading once had a place on our campus. Mrs. Jenny Carson 03 shared some insight on what that used to look like. “Cheerleading was a varsity sport when I was in high school. There were two seasons: Football and Basketball. I was a four-year varsity football cheerleader,” she said.

However, the sport was discontinued during her time at RE. The interest started to wane from younger students when I was a senior,” Mrs. Carson said. While there was a period of time when varsity cheerleading competed, this ended due to a turnover in coaches and the rise of an active, dynamic dance team that began to compete. Many dancers would participate in cheerleading because there had not previously been a dance team. With the collision of both, I think the decline of cheerleading was inevitable. 

Although this explains the decline of cheerleading back then, the dance team today is not as present on campus as it used to be. Previously, a big dance show was put on each semester by not only the dance team members but also students who took dance as an elective. Family members, students, and friends attended the production, which was a major event on campus.

The shows were always something to really look forward to. Everyone worked hard, showed up to mandatory rehearsals, and respected the commitment it took to put on a show like that. It was really rewarding when we bowed at the end and were commended for our work,” Alessia Noboa ’17, who was on the dance team, said.

Now, however, the dance team only puts on a show at the middle school, and does not have as much of a presence at the upper school. But this also raises a potential alternative to a full-blown cheer squad: Why not allow the dance team to perform at sporting events more often? This would facilitate the benefits, practices, and skills of a cheer squad without having to find room for both. The presence of a cheer squad on the field would increase school spirit and involvement, but a dance team in their place would have similar benefits. 

Current Ransom Everglades Dance Team member Amanda Sotolongo 21 shed light on ways the dance team today could play a more prominent role in our community and incorporate aspects of cheerleading. One of the most fun things to do as a dance team is to perform at sporting events for Ransom,” she said. It would be really cool if the dance team had uniforms, and I think in the past years, the dance team has become more of a team than what it used to be, so maybe in the near future we could have uniforms. 

A larger role for the dance team in sporting events might strengthen the dance team and provide the same morale boost cheerleading would provide during a game. Thomas Schein 21, quarterback of the varsity football team, relayed his feelings about not having a squad to cheer them on during games. “It’s a little bit upsetting. There’s a lot of needed excitement during football games. Already it was a tough year with COVID in terms of fans, so the cheerleaders would have added a lot of that excitement towards our game,” he said.

When I asked around within the Ransom Everglades community, students either liked the idea of a cheerleading squad or were indifferent to it; no one was against it. Georgia Crosby 21, student body president, said, I think there is a lack of coaches available for it. Perhaps if a big enough group sought out to find a sponsor, it could be possible.

The lack of a potential coach is an obstacle, however.The dance team is basically student-run,” Sotolongo stressed, “other than the faculty sponsor from the middle school [Ms. Desiree Masucci] who helps organize the dance show there. 

The availability of a cheer squad in our school community, or something resembling it, would foster growth, discipline, and school spirit. If the school designated a coach and enough students showed interest, we could easily have a successful squad in our community to root on our Raiders.