The varsity cheer team misses out on states


The Varsity Cheer Team at one of their last competitions. Photo by Mariam Hanna.

Mariam Hanna, Lifestyles & Entertainment Editor

On Saturday, Feb. 23, senior and cheer team captain Grace Dybash got up bright and early to prepare for Regionals later that day. She and many of cheerleaders on her team walked in confident that they would make it to the States competition in Grand Rapids, MI the next week. After a challenging few days, the team got together and gave it their all, but unfortunately for the, it was not enough. When Dybash found out Rochester High School would be ending their cheer competition season here, she was shocked. Holding back her tears, she reminisced on her past four years as a Falcon cheerleader.

The Rochester varsity cheer team got 5th  place at the regional level competition a few weeks ago, and this placement did not allow them to advance to the state finals. For many girls on the team, the coach, parents, friends and siblings, finding this out was disappointing. Rochester Varsity Cheer has won first place at States 19 times. This season, however, they did not.

“I was sad for the kids,” varsity cheer coach Mrs. Suzanne Wood said. “I just felt sad for them. I have a bunch of seniors I have 14 seniors, and they tried real hard and had a lot better attitudes this year than on last year’s team… The outcome of the competition didn’t really match up with the effort that they put in. But, it had to. There are no excuses we really didn’t perform as well that day as we normally do.”

Dybash believes her team did not do as well as they thought they would do because of the number of injuries many of her teammates struggled with days before regionals.

“We had the situation where our center flyer… had to be taken out of all three rounds,” Dybash said. “We had to replace her three days before Districts… Another one was the day before regionals. [A teammate] rolled her ankle, so we had to replace her a day before regionals, so definitely we had a lot of of last minute injuries that we couldn’t really overcome. I think it made us all really frazzled on competition day.”

Because of how many cheerleaders were unable to compete due to injuries and health issues, two freshmen and a sophomore from the junior varsity team had to join the varsity team for districts and regionals.

“It was a miracle that we made it past districts because we had to bring up two freshmen and a sophomore and just try to teach them our rounds in three days,” Dybash said. “It was crazy.”

A large part of why many people were so bewildered that the cheer team did not make it to states is that the team was having a successful season.

“By the way the season was going until regionals, I was like ‘okay, we’re definitely making it, and we can even win this, win States,’” Dybash said. “And then, honestly, I think that it was just a bad day for us. Looking back at the whole season, I don’t think we did anything wrong or I regret and be like ‘okay, this is the reason why we didn’t make it to states.’”

Coach Wood shares the idea that the team was not going through many challenges during the season. She also believes that the cheerleaders’ attitudes and effort had a lot to do with the way the season went.

“I really don’t think we faced any hardships, honestly,” Coach Wood said. “It was a pretty smooth year. But having a smooth year doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make it to the finals, but it definitely means that you’re going to enjoy the year while you’re putting the effort in.”

For captain and senior Elizabeth Kravick, having the team she had this season made her last year as a Rochester cheerleader more special and enjoyable.

“We all had a really good bond this year that made it so much easier to build each other’s confidence up,” Kravick said. “Everyday we would come into practice with positive attitudes and even if we had a bad practice we still made sure to encourage one another… I am really proud of this team for creating this bond that will last is forever.”

Through thick and thin, this team was always there for one another, according to several of the cheerleaders. They stood side by side through it all, and help each other’s hands on the way up.

“One of my greatest memories is when I was injured, and the girls on the team knew how bad I felt,” senior Cayleen Reedy said. “They put together a  sunshine basket for me, which truly showed how special this team really was.”

For Coach Wood, the most difficult part of this season was having to say goodbye to 14 seniors, many of whom she had been coaching for years.

“14 seniors was  pretty tough for me to lose,” Coach Wood said. “I just remember, at the beginning of the year, their commitment. Last spring, most of the returning girls wrote me a letter claiming how committed they were going to be for the next year and how much they loved the hard work and how passionate they were about making it the be best year ever, and I’ll never forget that.”

Coach Wood has seen the girls and their highs and at their lows. Because of this, some of the cheerleaders’ favorite memories were made with her. When Dybash reflects on the past year, a funny memory comes to mind.

“[Coach Wood] had to get cataract surgery on one of her eyes, and she was wearing these huge sunglasses,” Dybash said. “She wasn’t even allowed to drive. She was on all these medicines, and she was like ‘guys, I’m probably not going to be able to make it to practice,’ and so we were like ‘okay’. So we were at practice and we saw Woodie, that’s our coach, we see her showing up in these glasses, she just got out of surgery… and she’s like ‘guys, I’m here’ and we were just laughing so hard ‘cause I think it shows a really big sense of dedication because she literally had surgery that day, and she came in.”