Sharp motions, point your toes and smile


Lexi Tarter, Journalism Student

Holding hands, they walk out onto the mat. With the encouragement of their coaches, they know their hard work will pay off in their two and a half minute routine. The nerves sink in as they’re standing in their formation; anticipating the music to begin. One more glance up to the coaches as they say the words, “music is on.” This is their chance to prove that there is more to cheerleading than standing on the sidelines and shaking pom-poms.

The Southwest cheerleading team spends both football and basketball seasons cheering on the players. However, these girls also spend a long period of their time learning a routine for their competition season. This year, the cheerleading team attended two competitions. Attending these competitions, these girls represented SW and were expected to act as role models.

In order to prepare for a competition, a lot of practice is necessary to be successful.

“The girls learned the choreography in August, and then routinely practiced in class and at after school practices to prepare for the festivals,” JV cheerleading coach Morgan Scanlon said.

The JV/Varsity routine involved very many high level skills. In tumbling, the girls showed their skills by doing back handsprings, back tucks, and layouts. In stunting the girls had six heel-stretches to full downs and also demonstrated an arabesque to a waterfall down. Also with stunting, the pyramid had two flip stunts to a heel-stretch and then switched to a hitch.The routine also involved jumps, a dance and many transitions.

“I thought the opening stunt of six heel-stretches to full-downs was very impressive. The scorps to the walk-out also looked graceful and impressive,” Scanlon said.

On Nov. 10 the SW cheerleading team held a showcase that cheerleaders from around the area attended. Southwest coaches Morgan Scanlon and Kelly Lair were responsible for organizing the event.

“Since we hosted the Southwest Showcase, the coaches planned the entire festival. We invited area schools, invited vendors, organized the schedule and physically set up the school to accommodate our attendees,” Scanlon said. “We had to hire judges, a DJ, and helpers. We also had to make sure our teams were prepared and ready to showcase their routine.”

At SW Showcase, the JV/Varsity earned a rating of II.

SW cheerleaders also attended a cheer competition on Dec. 12 called MNU which was held at Olathe Northwest. At MNU, they earned a rating of I and won the Pioneer Award, which means they had the highest score in the small Varsity division.

Before the cheerleaders went to perform, their coaches gave them words of advice.

“I told them I knew they could hit the routine and they should have confidence in themselves,” Scanlon said.

Being a cheerleader is stereotyped as being a leader of the school.They are believed to always have positive attitudes and be the motivators of the school.

“A cheerleader is supposed to be a good role model to their classmates as well as younger girls who look up to them. Being a cheerleader means to be involved in the school,” Varsity cheerleader Paige Donovan said.

In addition, a big part of being a cheerleader is to promote school spirit in an appropriate way by encouraging words and cheers.

“The role of a cheerleader is to pump up the crowd and to show the support for our players in a positive way,” JV cheerleader Madi Wright said.

Cheerleaders do more than sit on the sidelines. They are performers.When cheerleaders compete at a cheer competition, judges have the final say. They have to put it all on the mat and work to hit all of their skills. Even  if everything is solid, the outcome is never predictable.

“I think the cheerleaders at Southwest are tremendous athletes. They work hard not only to cheer on other players at games, but they show athleticism as they jump, tumble and physically hold girls in the air,” Scanlon said. “They are there to support other teams, but they are also athletes in their own right, and  should be recognized for the time and energy they put into their sport.”.