What even is a cheer competition? : The inside scoop on the ambiguous world of back flips and toe-touches

Lily Blake

When it comes to most sports, the winner of a game is absolute. However, in the world of competitive cheer, the winners are more nuanced. When they compete, it isn’t just against one team, it’s against multiple. Marian Varsity Cheer participates in competitions every year from June through February, and each goes a little differently, however, the premise is all the same.

There are three categories of cheer competition: gameday, tumbling and non-tumbling. Marian competes in the categories of gameday and tumbling.

Gameday consists of a routine with four parts. First, the team performs a band dance, a short dance to a song that would traditionally be performed by a marching band. Immediately following, the announcer at the competition will yell out a hypothetical athletic situation that could happen during a game, and the team must quickly react with the correct cheer.


Senior Aileen Zitek has the vital job of calling whether the team will do an offense cheer or a defense cheer that they prepared prior to the competition. “It can be fun but a little stressful, I am always nervous I’m going to mess it up,” Zitek said.

After that, there is a time-out cheer, which is a bit longer than most and includes big signs that the girls hold up. To finish off the gameday performance, the teams conclude with their school fight song.

Tumbling is when the cheerleaders compete a routine that includes many riveting tricks from back handsprings to back-tucks and fulls. Finally the teams’ routine culminates in a non-tumbling dance routine that has lots of jumps and no tumbling tricks.

When they are being scored, the judges look for proper use of skills, both crowd and visual appeal, motion placement and execution, and overall impression. Marian Varsity Cheer competes in game day together, and a subset of 11 team members compete in the tumbling category.

The team practices year-round after school to perfect routines that are competition ready. Those straight legs, painted toes and loud chants you see and hear on the mat have much sweat and hard work behind them. “Usually the last practice before a competition we run full outs [routines] over and over again. We make corrections to the little things & try to perfect the routine as best as we can,” Reina Flores, cheer co-captain said.

Competitions usually last all day and of course include many cheer bows and make-up touch ups for the Marian squad. Marian Varsity Cheer competes in many exhibitions and competitions throughout the year, but just the same as any sports team, the biggest competition is state.

The Marian Cheer Team received third place in both gameday and tumbling at the 2018 State Cheer and Dance Competition and will compete at the state competition again on Feb. 15.

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