By J1 Reporter Marin Krenzer
Go team go! If you’ve ever been to a sports game, you have probably seen a cheer team. As crowd leaders, the cheerleading team is the connection between the fans and the athletic team. The energy and enthusiasm produced by the crowd can rally a sports team to play better and boost overall morale. It is a cheerleader’s responsibility to unify the crowd. With the global pandemic of COVID-19, there are multiple restrictions keeping Marian cheerleaders distanced, masked, and isolated during their games.
The Crusaders and cheer squads across the world have had to make some drastic changes for the 2020 cheer season. The May tryouts for this year were completely online, along with every summer practice. Before school had even started, new team members were anxious, returning members were stressed, and their coaches were utterly overwhelmed. However, when school opened at Marian in mid-August, weekly in-school cheer practices followed. Coaches Kayleigh Hascall and Sydney Bonta figured out a way to succeed despite the many restrictions.
“The COVID-19 restrictions this year have made things hard, but at first we were unsure if there was a possibility of our team cheering at all,” Coach Bonta said. “Thankfully we can, and it’s awesome to see the school come together and make it possible for the girls to have the opportunity to cheer in a safe way.”
The coaches have organized distanced cheer practices with online demonstrations for those who could not be present. Masks are required for all girls and carpools to practice have a limited number of occupants. With volleyball season starting in the middle of August, the cheer team found a way to distance themselves from the players, crowds, and each other. This COVID- adapted system works safely and well, but cheerleaders yell cheers, and with a mask mandate, this was expected to be a difficult adjustment. Despite this theory, many team members believe it has driven them to their cheer voice improvement.
Senior Varsity Cheerleader Julia Quinn says masks have challenged the Marian Cheer Team to reach a higher level of spirit during the games. “The mask mandate is a perfect way to keep us all healthy and still allow us to do what we love,” Quinn said.“The masks encourage us to cheer louder for our teams and also adds a cute accessory to our uniforms!” The cheer team was provided with matching blue Marian masks that they wear to games. Many on the team agree and say the mask mandate pushes them to yell louder and clearer, improving the sound of the cheers. As a four year team member, Quinn said she is disappointed that COVID-19 has disrupted her final year at Marian Cheer, but she is grateful her coaches have found ways to keep the program alive.
“My favorite cheer tradition that was canceled this year due to the coronavirus was UCA cheer camp,” Quinn said.. “We were able to have a makeshift camp, but it was not the same. In my opinion cheer camp is the best part of our cheer season because we are able to learn a lot of new material, create stronger bonds within our team and are able to meet a lot of girls from other cheer teams.” These changes may have upset some team members, but many girls say they are eternally grateful their season has survived at all.
The cheerleading team is often the most visible connection between the fans and the athletic team. During this pandemic, the school initially restricted all fans at sporting events to be strictly family only. This may not seem like a drastic adjustment, however athletes react much differently when their own classmates and supporters are not there. The Marian Cheer Team is given the responsibility to step in and cheer on their fellow classmates when no one else can. The COVID-19 restrictions have changed activities and clubs all over Marian but the cheer girls are ultimately thankful for the chance to continue to support their school’s sports and fellow athletes.