For the cheerleaders this year, their season has been one like no other. Nearing the end of their season, they have been consistent with their placing– top five in all but one of their competitions. They also placed fifth in their conference, finished fourth place at sectionals and qualified for state.
A week before qualifying for state, Sam Nickl, senior, said, “This season we all have a better mindset; everyone wants the same thing, and that’s to make it to state.”
Although Nickl has only been a member of the cheer team for two years, she said she has stepped up as a leader because she is a senior.
On the team, there is no designated captain but a group leadership dynamic instead.
“There are so many seniors that I look at as strong leaders,” said Carissa Jandrositz, head coach of the cheerleading program.
For the sport of cheerleading, reliance on one another is crucial, as “you’re physically throwing each other in the air,” Jandrositz said.
As a result, how the team and coaches work together can become a large contributor to the team’s success.
“Our coaches put in so much time into our team,” Nickl said. “Whether it’s looking back at the videos to see how we can improve or giving small corrections to us during practice, they do a lot for us.”
The cheer season is a long one, as there is the football season followed by the competition season. Throughout the football season, the team works on improving their skills but have more toned-down practices, but when competition season starts, they work on keeping skills consistent by drilling them over and over. There is also a lot more conditioning during the competition season.
“Right now, it’s pretty much grind time,” said Abby Gomez, a four-year varsity leader on the team. “Practices are harder, which requires everyone to put 110 percent effort in.”
With the five to six practices a week, the cheer team has grown close, bonding over their shared goals, successes and failures.
“We are like a family,” Nickl said.
That is a large part of what makes the team so successful. The cheerleaders are all about pushing each other and holding each other accountable for the end goal.
“In years’ past, it has been challenging to get them there [to a shared vision],” Jandrositz said.
Now, with the 24 student-athletes on this co-ed team, the actualization of their vision became reality.
In the conference, Libertyville High School is one of the team’s top contenders. In the co-ed division, scoring is harder than others because there aren’t as many teams there. As a result, the co-ed division is very competitive in the state of Illinois.
But the coach had other thoughts as to who their biggest contender was.
“Our competition is always going to be ourselves,” Jandrositz said. “We always want to try and beat our score from the last competition.”