A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Cheering for Change

If you were to watch a football game, you would see cheerleaders lining the sidelines, decked out in pretty bows with smiles shining. However, they are far more than just a pretty face. At Hanover-Horton,  cheerleaders are working to change that stereotype.

“It’s an athletically demanding sport,” Ashlin Schnell said, junior. “People think they can just show up and be a good cheerleader but it’s so much more than that. It takes mental and physical preparation to be able to do what we do.”

Listed by the top tens as number four, cheer is ranked as one of the most dangerous sports in the world.

“Most girls that come cheer have some sort of background in dance or gymnastics.” “We tumble and do stunts.” Schnell said. “It’s very easy to get hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

But cheer is just more than a physical sport. In the small town of  Hanover-Horton, they are providers of spirit and support.

“I really think cheerleading has an impact on the performance of sports teams, as well as the fans on the sidelines, especially football,” said Landon Melling, senior student. “The energy that they bring to the sidelines can have a huge impact on players.”

Through spirit and support they are able to connect the town to the team. “We’re a bridge between the crowd and the team,” Schnell said. “We help bring the community together as one.”

On Fridays cheerleaders make their football players snacks and signs. For larger games like homecoming, they have the younger cheerleaders cheer along with them, bringing younger athletes into the spotlight.

“Homecoming is the best,” Schnell. “We have the most energy and the most people participating.”

“Homecoming is hype. I love it,” Chandler Garcia-Vanz said, football player. “The cheerleaders support us very well, they really get the crowd into it.”

The sport of cheer-leading is one that is mentally and physically exhausting. But in the end, all cheerleaders would agree that it is well worth it.

“The biggest takeaway for most cheerleaders I think is the boost in self-confidence it can give you,” Schnell said. “It’s something that you can learn in high school and carry with you for the rest of your life.”