I step out onto the court with the cheer team to the silence of the crowd.
“One, two, three!” The cheerleaders clap. “Blue, gold, and white, the eagles, are here to fight. We’re strong and we’re mighty, ready to attack, we’ll rise to the top, the Golden, Eagles, can’t, be, stopped!” The crowd of parents in front of us cheers as we yell at the top of our lungs.
Getting into formation for the pyramid, I squat down in preparation to lift a flyer into the air. We are performing a stunt that we have practiced for a few weeks and this is our big moment on senior night.
The parents cheer as we finish the pyramid and we all cheer and spirit off the court. We did it!
The cheer team rarely faces the students when we cheer because they stare at all of us awkwardly.
“When I say golden, you say eagles! GOLDEN!” We point to the audience and silence reigns as two cheerleaders in the back shout “EAGLES!”
Crowd-raising chants aren’t very fun when the crowd is sitting down staring at you in silence. We know fans don’t often yell, so we always prepare to yell all by ourselves.
While I love being a cheerleader and being able to chant for my team and keep the players motivated when they need it, it is hard when we do crowd-raising chants and the student section does not stand and cheer with us.
What is worse is when the student body makes fun of the team. We have practice like any other athletics group and we work hard to keep our routines clean and safe for the stunt groups and fliers that go in the air during timeouts and halftime. The student body making fun of the hard work and practice that goes into something that uplifts the Golden Eagles can be extremely frustrating to see.
I have only been a cheerleader for one year. My limited experience in the area of competitive cheerleading and sideline cheerleading stems from my early dancing years and the things I have learned this year on the team. My teammates are beautiful women of God who consistently help each other out and lift each other up when life is hard. To see other students make fun of or disrespect my teammates hurts.
Do not boo the other team, either. The NAIA requires athletes to finish testing over the five elements of being a champion of character at the start of each year. One of the biggest element is sportsmanship. If we are truly representing John Brown University and God, we should not boo anyone or try to distract the other team. Let them have a fair chance and let our team showcase the skills they have.
I am not saying these things to be dramatic. Being a cheerleader may not seem like much, but to me and the other girls, this is our team. This is our routine every week: we dress up, wave our pom-poms, do a high kick, and elevate our upbeat attitudes to try to get the student body to cheer on their Golden Eagles. Even when we have a rough week of school and nothing is going right, we get out on that court or onto those sidelines, we smile big and cheer big, because it’s what we love to do.
Ultimately, our team needs people who can cheer them on to victory.
What I want from you, my fellow students, is to recognize the hard work that us, as cheerleaders, put into cheering. We want you to recognize and support us when we do a stunt or start a chant. I want you to cheer with us. We want your help in supporting our team.
“JBU, go JBU. Yell it with us!”