“We are always there to have each other's back and be supportive of each other,” said captain Norah Feldman ’22. “It’s a great community to be in.”
Cheer stunts require skill and support. The final sequence is a product of seasons of perfecting techniques and building relationships. It doesn’t just automatically happen. A major part of preparation has been the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) preseason cheer camp, a tested training ground that bridges the gap amongst teammates early on and across grade levels.
“It’s a process of learning,” said Feldman about cheer camp. “We have seniors passing knowledge to freshmen.”
The SJS Varsity Cheerleaders kicked off the 2021 season with the NCA camp, a tradition brought into the program by Head Coach Jamie Everett. This summer the team garnered NFHS credentialing, a bid to NCA Nationals, a Special Events Invite, multiple NCA All-American nominees, and five NCA All-Americans: Katya Bigman ’23, Elizabeth Cox ’22, Mia Hirshfeld '24, Margot Kades ’23, and Dian Yu ’22.
“Preparation is key,” said Everett. “We do a number of drills and repetitive fundamentals before moving on to more difficult stunts. Strength training is also important.”
The team follows the NCA Stunt S.A.F.E. rules:
S- Safety and spotting
A- Actively engaged
F- Four-Corner spotting
Cheer stunts range in difficulty from basic to advanced, with names such as Liberty, Show and Go, Half-Up, and Basket Toss. The Sponge and Cradle are types of dismounts. Stunt groups combine four to five cheerleaders. Pyramids are made of multiple stunt groups performing together.
“Everything we do, we have to do it together,” said captain Maddie Mossman ’22. “It's super focused. You want to make sure you are on the right count and make sure everyone knows exactly what we are doing. There are a lot of moving parts. A pyramid could involve the whole team at once.”
Cheer practice is as demanding as performances under the Friday night lights, and the process never waivers from a sense of community and support. Senior Elizabeth Cox reflected on her freshman year in the program:
“That day, we were stunting and doing all kinds of things which required every team member to be hands-on and focused. As we were dancing, stunting, jumping, etc., putting our hearts into it all, I realized how happy I was laughing with my teammates and also putting all of our efforts into something. Cheer innately supports everyone because, like with stunting, if one person isn’t there or supporting, there can be consequences. Everyone on our team matters, and that really lifted my spirits that day.”
Need some spirit? Check out the next cheer halftime and sideline performances at the Varsity Football game on Friday, September 24 at 7:00 p.m. on Skip Lee Field.
2021 St. John’s Varsity Cheerleaders
Eliot Aiman ’22, Alex Berger ’23, Katya Bigman ’23, Laurence Brooks ’23, Elizabeth Cox ’22, Norah Feldman ’22 (Capt.), Lucy Haire ’22, Elizabeth Harris ’23, Lexie Leitner ’22, Margot Kades ’23, Maddie Mossman ’22 (Capt.), Katherine Stepanian ’22, Lillian Trask ’22, Evie Vu ’23, Caroline Walker ’23, Kate Willey ’22, Dian Yu ’22, Emma Wallace ’23 (Mgr.)
Sam Chambers- Athletic News