Indian River cheerleaders play big part in game | Sports
Being a high school cheerleader isn’t just about looks – it’s about preparation, performance, and coordination.
Truth be told, the Indian River High School cheerleading squad that will perform on the sidelines of the school’s first playoff football game since 2013, when the Indians kicked off against St. Andrew’s on Saturday, November 27, is one of the best athletes in the school.
While a wide catcher performing a crossover must hold onto an oblong soccer ball that accelerates through the air while simultaneously absorbing hard body contact and in a split second the cheerleader must be strong enough, fast and coordinated to reliably serve as a base member to support the weight and take off of their flyer. In addition, the outfielder must be able to climb and hold onto several reliable pairs of hands before performing their jump.
“I believe cheerleaders are some of the best athletes because they participate in one of the most physical sports around,” said Kaitlyn Donofrio, who is in her eighth season as a cheerleader coach. – cheerleaders at Indian River High. “They use every part of their body, between jumps, tumbles and, most importantly, stunted growth. “I still compare it to gymnastics, just without the equipment,” she added. “It’s also one of the more team-oriented sports, because we need everyone to be able to do the stunts and the pyramids.”
Often referred to as one of the most physically demanding activities, cheerleading builds strength, coordination, and flexibility. It also offers a team activity that improves self-confidence and leadership skills. Most cheering dances allow participants to coordinate with each other and maintain consistency. Cheerleaders use stretching as a primary part of their practice to gradually build flexibility before and after cheering.
“My favorite [football] the cheer is the ‘plating’, because of all the different movements, ”said junior IR cheerleader Cynthia Figueroa. “It’s not just the guns. We also squat and use different movements.
Ignite the crowd
Much like the athletes they encourage, IR cheerleaders also experience butterflies in their stomachs.
“I’m really nervous at first,” said senior team captain Leslie Cordoba, who calls the team cheers throughout their performances. “Then I calm down because I know my [cheer] the team is capable of anything we envision.
As the crowd leader, the cheerleader team provides a connection between the spectators and the football team. Sometimes a crowd can provide the energy and enthusiasm to inspire and rally grill artists to perform better, and every cheerleader has a basic knowledge of the sport they are cheering for, which allows them to choose and perform a relevant touch song.
“I think we’re really adding something to the gaming experience,” said sophomore Kelly Hitch. “I feel like we are really exaggerating ‘the spectators’ when we play, especially when I am flying,” she added of performers who are raised in the air by teammates before jumping or ” steal”. “I really enjoy flying and learning new tricks.”
Indian River cheerleaders are also spirit breeders as they promote and spread pride in the school. When the Indians score a touchdown, the cheerleader squad displays their excitement by waving pom poms, shouting and celebrating. If morale is low, cheerleaders attempt to increase the excitement by throwing a touch song and performing stunts, jumps, somersaults, or pyramids.
Figueroa said that just seeing the crowd “makes us really excited, and the feeling of suspense is there because everyone on the [cheer] the team is pumped to perform. I love dancing and jumping, “she said,” because [enhances] the school spirit we feel and the excitement of playing. I believe our [cheer] The team really brings a lot of spirit and hope to the students and the spectators as they see how much fun we are playing. I believe our role is important because we are the spirit of the school in bringing everyone together.
Donofrio emphasizes that the most important role of his cheerleaders is to “bring the student body and the community together” at sporting events and rallies. “We strive to obtain [spectators] engaged in the football game and in our cheering and chanting, ”said Donofrio, a native of Baltimore and a member of the Perry Hall and Stephen Decatur High School cheerleader teams. “We are here to really help and [cheer on] the football team and make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
Anatomy of a waterfall – the basis
One of the most picturesque and intriguing maneuvers performed by a team of cheerleaders is the stunt, which can involve a tumbling, mounting, pyramid or throw. Team members positioned at the bottom of a waterfall, or pyramid, must be strong and stable in order to hold and lift the feet of the flyer.
“To be safe it’s important for me to stretch and warm up to make sure the outfielder doesn’t get injured,” said Zoe Tuttle, Junior Base Member. “Everyone on the team needs to be on the same page before trying to do stunts, and each individual needs to know what they need to do to be safe and successful. If you skip this part, it can cause confusion, and that’s when people can get hurt. It takes focus, determination and persistence on the part of everyone on the team to make everything as perfect as possible.
“For me as a base my main thought is not to drop my flyer,” Tuttle added. “I don’t want anyone to be hurt, especially because of something I did wrong. Before I become stunted, I take into account any feedback my trainer has given me and focus on what I’m about to do, such as where to grip or how to move my hands. I’m also thinking about how I can help the other base or the rear, as well as the pilot, so that they can get their game done. We need to look out for each other and work together to make sure our stunt is the best it can be. During stunting, I try to stay confident and trust myself and my teammates.
Anatomy of a waterfall – the jump
The flyer is the focal point of the waterfall – the person who stands on top of the base and completes the pyramid. The term “flyer” is derived from the main purpose of the stunt to “fly” down to safety in the arms of base members.
“I know I have to hit ‘or pull off that stunt because I know I can do it,” said junior Mel Melber. “I have to be confident and be the best I can be. I also have to stay focused, smile and have look good in the air.When it comes to being safe and successful in flight, the most important thing to make sure you are right is to squeeze all your muscles, tighten your ankles, so you don’t end up falling and hurting yourself or your bases.
“Don’t think you can’t do it,” Melber added. “Because if you’re not sure about yourself when you’re flying, it’s not going to hit you and you’re going to deflate.” Another thing you need to do is [practice repeatedly] with your stunt group and bases because you have to work together to throw this stunt in the air and hit. In doing this, you need to help yourself lift off your bases and make sure you distribute your weight evenly between them. In my experience, it’s really, really good to do your stunts.
Following a solid “playbook”
While the field soccer team hosts games that are scripted, IR cheerleaders also have a solid “playbook” from which to choose their cheers and moves.
“We get a lot of cheering on the sidelines, some for defense and some when the offense is on the pitch,” said coach Donofrio. “We even have some that involve the crowd. We also try to [create] dances to the songs that the school orchestra plays during the game, as well as cheers that we perform with falls and stunts. Hope we keep the crowd entertained.
The IR cheerleaders ‘playbook’ can include back jumps (jump backwards on hands, then a quick thrust from hands to feet), stunts (which involve tumbling, climbing, pyramid or a throw), movements (defined position of the arms), jumps (both feet leave the ground), acrobatics (any skill or feat involving a tumbling, climbing, pyramid or throw that requires teamwork) and tumbling (a gymnastic skill used to cheer, dance, or motivate a crowd).
Figueroa, who is in her third year of performing for the Cheers team, said she appreciates the opportunity to continually learn something new from each performance.
“I think the last three years have shown me something new every season, and I’m excited to see what my final year brings,” she said of next year’s season. “I love each of [my teammates], and I am happy that we are supporting each other as well.
The IR cheering team also includes hard-working student-athletes such as freshmen Christine Coleman, Sage Delricco, Natalie Nearey and Alana Tedesco; sophomores Olivia Clark, Madelyn Class, Daisey Dominguez, Jillian Lebling, and Yislin Osorto; and juniors Ashley Gracia, Mallory Justice, Christie Nicholson and Haley Tamayo.
The Indian River cheering team enjoys a close and mutually valued relationship with their coach.
“We all like to thank Coach Donofrio” during practices and games, said sophomore Lilly Johnson. “We wouldn’t be able to do our stunts as well as we do if she wasn’t there to guide us.”
Donofrio, who has built a successful program at IR, can boast of several Indian alumni who have applauded or are currently applauding at the college level. She began leading cheerleaders at the age of 6 for several Baltimore-area recreational and all-star teams. Her love of cheering was so intense that she received private training as coaches and student-athletes from Towson University.