Cheer team wins OAA Red Division, looks toward future


Evan Smyth, Staff Writer

The Varsity cheer team earned the OAA Red Division title on Sat., Feb. 6, earning its eighth straight win. Coming off of a 2015 state runner-up, the team hopes to earn the top spot, and, after Saturday’s win, is now ranked #1 in the state. 

Their coach, Susan Wood, says that in order to meet their goal they must envision the size of the stage.

“It’s hard to imagine the size of the crowd, but we try to visualize the facility, the size of the bleachers and the amount of people there,” coach Wood said. “When we practice in the mall area we are just looking at a brick wall, so we have to try to visualize the numbers of teams that will be sitting on the sides staring at us and the number of fans sitting in the bleachers.”

Junior Haven Fowler says she prepares more than just physically at daily practice.

“We mentally prepare ourselves each week,” Fowler said. “We try our hardest to work together as a team and not work against each other.”

Although they prepare themselves mentally more in practices before meets, sophomore Bailey Carlson adds that their physical training remains constant.

“We practice the same,” Calson said. “Nothing changes whether we perform or not.”

Freshman Dyamond Bryant notes that stretching to prevent injuries in practices are a key to making runs for championships.

“We stretch more, but we do less conditioning,” Bryant said. “We also change up our practices to focus towards our upcoming competition.”

Coach Wood described how the team prevents injuries during the season.

“We try to never be sloppy about what we are doing,” coach Wood said. “We do a lot of our routines during the week and if we get careless it’s a good way to roll an ankle or when you are tumbling you could break a bone in your hand, so sometimes it’s just a matter making sure that every time you do something you are treating it like it is the best you have ever done it because when you relax a little bit that is when injuries happen.”

To prevent injuries, Fowler says the team needs to work together as one group.

“If each person does her part, as a whole it should work,” Fowler said. “If not, then someone is most likely going to get hurt.”

Coach Wood then describes what a pre-competition practice is like.

“It’s the same routines, but it is easy to get nervous with that quantity of people watching you,” coach Wood said. “It’s pretty good practice to do things at basketball games. The Crosstown Showdown for example was loaded with people and we struggled with thousands of people watching us. I’d rather fall at the Crosstown Showdown then in a competition, although I wouldn’t want to fall at all.”

Bryant is now looking forward to the rest of the season.

“We are practicing even more and change somethings for our next competitions,” Bryant said. “We will make practices longer than usual to stay fresh.”

Coach Wood also has her thoughts focused on the next hurdle. After winning the prestigious Lake Orion Invitational and earning Division champs, the team hopes to come out on top at the next event: leagues.

“If you want to be the league champ we need to win that meet, and then the one after that is over at the Deltaplex,” coach Wood said. “It’s just an invitational, but the state finals are held at the Deltaplex so going over there to get used to that venue is what we do.”

She explains the tough competition the cheer team faces.

“If we go over to the district meet and we aren’t in the top group of teams, we are eliminated,” coach Wood said. “Then you move on to regionals, and the winners of the different districts come over, and if we are not in the top four groups in that region, then we are eliminated and we don’t go to the state finals, so after that we can’t mess up.”

The simple routines from the beginning of the year look much cleaner and flashier as the team’s skills get better and as the chemistry is built.

“They are the same routines, but they don’t want them to look the same,” coach Wood said. “We want them to look better and better and the stunts to be cleaner, flashier and more accurate. The same thing with our tumbling moves that are not as in sync at the beginning of the season, and we know that everyone else is improving so we just keep improving as the season goes on.”