Yes, there’s action unfolding before the audience’s eyes on the courts and the fields. There are athletes – both male and female – giving it their all against the opposing teams.
But, then again, so are the cheerleaders.
What takes agility, discipline and, most importantly, determination, cheerleading is just as an athletic endeavor as everything else.
To gain more of a glimpse into this world, the Daily Times met up with Rawlins High School senior cheerleader Megan Gomez.
RDT: Please state your name.
Gomez: Megan Gomez.
RDT: And how old are you?
Gomez: I’m 17.
RDT: That makes you a senior, correct?
RDT: How long you been a cheerleader for?
Gomez: Three years, since I was a sophomore.
RDT: What got you into it?
Gomez: Just seeing them out there was kind of inspiring, because I wanted to do it and I had nothing else. And I wanted to get involved with the school.
RDT: So this is your main extracurricular then?
RDT: No other sports?
Gomez: No… I wanted to do soccer but that didn’t happen.
RDT: Are you planning on going to college?
Gomez: I think LCCC, in Laramie.
RDT: What do you want to study?
Gomez: Don’t know yet.
RDT: I got a nice shot of you in action on Friday, being hoisted up. When something like that happens, how much practice does it take to do it?
Gomez: It takes a lot of practice. You gotta have all your muscles tight, so you’re not heavy from when you’re in the air. You have to learn how to tighten your muscles and hold your weight and lift up your shoulders so you’re not heavy. It takes a lot of things. You have to lift your shoulders, you have to look at the crowd and smile, you have to keep your whole body tight; you can’t rotate your feet out. Any small movement and you fall, so it’s a really, really big deal.
RDT: Your fellow cheerleaders have to do this too?
Gomez: Just a couple of us. There’s only three fliers.
RDT: So the person being hoisted up is called a ‘flier?’
RDT: What other positions are there?
Gomez: The right person’s the main base. The other one’s the secondary. And then the back spot.
RDT: Is there any internal competition between you and your fellow cheerleaders?
Gomez: Yeah… So we go to State during basketball, but we’re going to State this year for football, to go to a competition game day. We’ll mock a football game, so everything that we do is to go to that competition.
RDT: So everybody’s anticipating that competition?
Gomez: Yes. So we have to always be in spirit a lot, at least eight counts. We have to do a bunch of kicks. We can’t like bring our voices down, we have to be really, really loud and get the crowd involved.
RDT: What about synchronization – do they judge that too?
Gomez: Yes… we all have to be together. If one person’s behind one count, we get docked points.
RDT: How do you guys practice? Is it after school?
Gomez: Yes, it’s right after school. We start at 4:15, and this year we condition a lot to get in shape and everything. Tuesdays and Thursdays are our stunting days. Friday was the first time we got straight to lib… So you just load in with one foot and you’re in the air with one foot.
RDT: You ever get scared doing something like that?
Gomez: Yes. One time we were doing basket tosses, and you just grab your feet and they just throw you.
RDT: What’s that feel like?
Gomez: There’s a lot of pressure to do everything right. If you do one thing wrong, either you hurt your bases, or stuff goes really bad.
RDT: What’s your favorite stunt?
Gomez: I like the cartwheel stunt. You do like a cartwheel, and then you do a bunch of bounces to get up. It looks really, really cool.
RDT: Do you think you’re going to apply all your skills learned as a cheerleader into later in life?
Gomez: I think so. I’ve had a couple rough patches with cheer, like things getting me really, really angry during stunts. But I realized that, you can’t be angry doing something. You have to be more positive to be able to do it. You can’t just like force something into it. You gotta work your way up to it.
RDT: What do you love about cheer the most?
Gomez: Being able to fly, but I don’t fly that much anymore, but I love it; it’s so much fun. And I love having my peers around me, looking at me and cheering me on while I’m up there. It makes me feel really, really good about myself.