Alongside parents and students, the Clarkston Varsity cheer team spends their Friday nights on the sidelines, cheering on the football players. They chant their cheers, they do flips to count the score, and do difficult stunts to encourage the crowd. As the season is coming to a close, the team looks back on the beginning of their season and how much they've progressed and improved.
The cheerleaders began preparing for their season when they held tryouts at the beginning of June. 2 Seniors, 1 Junior, 11 Sophomores, and 5 Freshmen were welcomed to the 2017 Sideline Varsity Cheer team. Since August the girls went through daily practices, camp at Eastern Michigan University, and have cheered at 12 games and continue to cheer on the football players as they go through their playoff season.
Through multiple team meetings with the coach, the girls discussed that they wanted this season to be different. They decided they wanted to coordinate with the student section, try different methods to warm up besides running, have people from the student section join in on stunts, and for the seniors to have one game to experience The Jungle.
When cheer Coach Beth Ann Mavis was asked how the season has changed her as a coach, she said "every season challenges me in different ways. I'd say this season we had really great workers and hard work together. It's been very fun and refreshing from years past."
To change things this season, the team wore face paint for blackout and game for a cure, had a yoga practice, two of the girls taught a zumba warm up, Caden Morello become a flyer in a thigh stand stunt, and Savannah McCue and Elizabeth McCue had one game where they joined the Jungle for the first time since they've been on Varsity.
Although the team is mostly Sophomores and Freshman, the Seniors are the most and experienced with the sport and Clarkston's cheer program. Vanheulen said she will not do cheer into college because she wants to live a "normal" college life.
McCue said she would like to cheer into college because she "likes how challenging it is and the effort that is put into it."
When asked what they will miss from their last sideline season, McCue said she "will miss all of her teammates" and Vanheulen will miss home games because she "was able to see the game on her box."
The new members of the team were the 5 freshman. Despite their age, these girls were some of the strongest members of the team. All five had back tucks and one had a very difficult skill few can do called a full a skill where the body is extended in a back flip and athlete also does a 360° rotation while flipping upside down.
Courtney Dick said she "decided to join the cheer team because of her mom and because [she] always had an interest in being loud and gymnastics especially. In 8th grade [she] did it and loved it."
She was surprised she made the team even saying she "thought it was completely crazy that [she] had even been considered for the team" when she had been scared to show off her tumbling skills at tryouts. Coach Mavis saw her at a GOB gymnastics and knew Dick had amazing gymnastics skills despite what she had shown at tryouts
The girls spent many hours together whether it was at a rainy game and cheering in soaking wet halloween costumes or singing camp songs to get through difficult workouts. All of the cheerleaders, including the coach, will walk away from the season with a memory.
Coach Mavis said she couldn't decide but she had two favorite memories, the homecoming game and the game for a cure. She added that she enjoyed the game for a cure because they "had the Clarkston Chiefs with us and just seeing the varsity girls interacting with the elementary kids was so fun"
She continued and said the homecoming game "was an amazing experience.It was crazy because we had so many things going on, but we put out an amazing performance starting with the pep assembly and going into halftime and ending with little ones on the field again."
Vanheulen said "My favorite memory was at camp when Cymone [Rogers] thought she was being attacked by geese."
Dick said her favorite memory was when "we had to repeat our plank because someone dropped during our first, we all sang the baby shark song after Elizabeth started it."
McCue said can overall was her favorite memory because she "felt like [they] bonded as a team and [they] got to know each other better."
These are some of the many memories these girls will take from their 2017 fall sideline season, while some girls have returned along with new girls to begin their 2017-2018 competition season as a Varsity team to create new experiences.
The team at Yates Cider Mill
Courtesy Beth Ann Mavis
Sammy Blomberg trying a yoga pose.
Courtesy of Beth Ann Mavis
McCue and Vanheulen at Yates Cider Mill
Courtesy Rebecca Winkler
Freshmen Taylor LaRose, Danielle Norrito, Cymone Rogers, Courtney Dick, and Sydnee Hubert-Mclennon