Cheerleading: misunderstood sport


Janice Greene

Laryssa Moul demonstrates a two-legged extension during a football game at Memorial Field last fall.

There’s more to cheerleading than standing on a sideline.

Athletes practice every day, perfecting their skills in various positions that are critical to the success of routines.

Positions include bases: side and main. These are the cheerleaders who put others in the air.

Tumblers are used for flips on the ground.

A flyer has one of the most nerve-racking jobs of all: that person gets thrown into the air to perform twists and maneuvers before heart-stopping catches by people below.

One of the most important things a flyer has to remember is foot placement. If your foot is crooked, or if your ankle starts to roll in the air, you have to know how to fix it, or else your stunt could come down.

Laryssa Moul, flyer (top), extends her arms to touch the fingertips of a teammate to pull off an extension lib partner stunt during JV States Nov. 13, 2022, in Plaistow. Note how she is not looking at teammates, but staring at a spot on the wall in order to keep her balance. (Janice Greene)

Staring at one spot in the wall or finding an unmoving object to look at will help you to keep balance and stay focused. When you’re in the air you have to remember to stay off your heels, which means don’t lean back. Another good tip, when you’re in the air, is to imagine your toes gripping into the ground, which will help you feel more stable and not so wobbly.

People hoping to improve technique may be tempted to go on YouTube and search up “Tips for flying,” but don’t: you have to find what works for your body and not someone else’s.

Something else I’ve learned from flying is that everything isn’t your fault if a stunt comes down. Sometimes the bases might have the wrong grips; maybe someone couldn’t get your foot in time. Cheerleading is a team sport.

Not only do cheerleaders have to learn and coordinate difficult moves, but they have to do it while smiling.

When you’re up in the air it’s hard, at first, trying to smile and mouth the words in your routine music because you’re focused on trying to keep your body perfect. It’s also a challenge to smile in the air and look like you’re having fun when a stunt is coming down. You can’t look scared; you have to keep smiling while you try to fix what just happened. Maybe your shoe slipped off a base’s hand, but she got it back in time. If you keep smiling, nobody might never notice the mistake because you didn’t know it on your face.

Most importantly, flyers need to trust their bases. This is the most important rule in cheer because if you can’t trust the people under you, how will a stunt ever work?

Teamwork is critical; cheerleading is a dangerous sport. If you don’t trust your bases and get hurt, you could find yourself out for the whole season, impacting everybody’s ability to compete.

Laryssa Moul, top, demonstrates a double legged extension at a football game at Memorial Field last fall. The bases are focusing on their grips on her foot. (Janice Greene)

Get to know your bases and understand that (as on every team) everyone doesn’t always get along. At the end of the day, it’s not worth your getting hurt just because you didn’t trust the people under you.

As cheerleading coach Monica Aldama once said, in Season 1 of the Netflix series Cheer, “You keep going until you get it right. And then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong.”

In addition to helping supporters go wild for the Crimson Tide at football and basketball games and at pep rallies, Concord High School squad members are busy preparing for competitions of their own.

Upcoming competitions for varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders include AstroBlast2023 Feb. 25 in Hackler Gymnasium Pinkerton Academy.

Varsity spirit athletes, coached by Head Coach Laura Norwalt-Owen and Assistant Coach Mia Landry, include juniors Aubrey Anderson, Caroline Cooper and Julianna Tonge, sophomores Jessalyn Arzu, Addison Cain and Avery Carter, and freshmen Faelyn Edwards, Nevaeh Hong, Mariyah Kenneh, Bakela Massaquoi and Riley Muir.

Junior varsity spirit athletes, coached by Head Coach Gina Poisson, include senior Kira Olson, junior Laryssa Moul, and freshmen Kaidyn Aldridge, Eniecia Gill Foster, Rylee Goodwin, Madison Matott, Annabelle Norwalt and Ayla Robinson.