Cheerleaders Taking On Two Seasons Of Competitions

Tiffany Rivera, Staff Reporter

West Springfield cheerleaders at Westfield State cheer camp preparing for the competition season.

Cheerleaders at West Side can often be seen cheering along the sidelines at footballs games during the fall sports season. However, in addition to cheering at the football games and practicing, cheerleaders are also taking on competitions this season. This year both JV (junior varsity) and varsity cheerleaders are competing in the fall season for the first time in their programs history.

The teams typically train throughout the fall and compete during the winter. This year the coaches decided they were going to enter the JV and varsity teams in fall and winter competitions. It’s a new goal this year to have both JV and varsity competing every fall. This decision came after the team won Western Mass last fall. Last fall the varsity cheer team entered their home competition last minute. They were hosting the competition; traditionally teams hosting the competition perform at the beginning. Instead of performing their routine at the start, they decided to enter the competition. Although last minute the girls were able to do very well. 

“It showed us as a team how we work under pressure and as a new team before the main competition season,” said Taylor Camossi a senior varsity cheerleader. The early success during last year’s fall and winter season inspired the coaches to start entering the team into competitions earlier in the year.  “We have two teams who are very talented,” said varsity coach Nicole Palange. 

Competing in the fall season is a difficult adjustment. “You also need a group who is ready for safety reasons and mental toughness,” mentioned coach Palange. “JV picked up basic skills very quickly and cooperate well with the varsity team.  Competitions keep the team challenge. “They want to work towards being the best team they can be by receiving constructive criticism and being judged. “Practice is very fun at times but at other times it’s really stressful. “We work so hard on stunting and tumbling, we do about a 30 minute work out before we start tumbling and stunting. We spend most of our time at practice working on our routine, cleaning and perfecting it,“ said Cassidy Dunn. Some of the cheerleaders not only in practice work really hard, but they take time out of their days to work on tumbling, with going to gymnastics.  “We have our fun moments in practice and we have our very strict moments.” the team is very determined to do well.”

At competitions, there are many categories for the judges to critique. On the score sheet there are 5 main categories: tumbling, stunting, dance, cheer and jumps. Each category has different requirements. Upon arrival at the competition, the cheerleaders go into their given area to get ready. They often help each other with hair and makeup, and they make sure their hair and makeup match for the routine. Once ready, they proceed to “pre penalty”. which is where the team warms up. There is a pre penalty judge watching to make sure stunts are safe and legal. They also give advice to improve routines before they get in front of the judges.
Throughout the fall season there is a lot of training in order to improve competition score. The coaches make practices very strict, especially in regards to punctuality and practice attire. The coaches also take into consideration team respect and participation. Practices are three days a week for about three hours for each practice. At each practice they have matching outfits. 

The team values teamwork, spending so much time together. Practices help with team bonding and many close friendships have been.

“I feel that my team is very supportive, everyone is so nice and caring and there for eachother,” said Alexis Anamisis, freshman on JV. “The team is very close and hard working which makes them even more successful,” said coach Soliel. The commitment to the team with stunting and tumbling and strength training has improved which has helped improve the program as a whole. The cheerleaders are not only very close but they are hardworking and dedicated to what their doing.