By Becca Spilka, Eddie Bates and Josh Imholte

It all begins in August. The lifting, the exhaustion, the hours upon hours of training to attain perfection, all leading up to Friday night’s performance on the field. And no, this is not about football.

This is about cheerleading.

Cheerleading is often overlooked as a sport by many people, arguing that cheerleaders are not athletes.

“Cheerleading is a sport because we practice just as hard, and it takes just as much effort as other sports,” senior varsity captain Stephanie Chau said.

The Oxford dictionary definition of a sport is, “an activity involving physical exertion and skill.” One of the hardest-looking and most impressive aspects of cheerleading are the routines they do. With the countless amounts of flips and corkscrews, it takes around three months to perfect it.

“In August, we get choreography, and from then on we practice the same routine until we have it perfect for competition season in October,” senior Kyra Ross-El said.

Coach Katie Munnery explained the mentality behind making a routine strong and the team successful.

“The way that I look at things is I want to beat you because I’m better than you, not because you made a mistake,” Coach Katie said. “I really try to teach the girls that we always support each other, and it feels even better to know that we beat teams that were really, really good respectable teams.”

After-school and Saturday practices are dedicated to running their routine again and again to make it clean and efficient.

“Execution is a big part of making a routine clean,” sophomore Lindsey Martin said. “How tight you are when you come out of things, your transitions, everything has to be really sharp.”

The team has improved significantly over the course of just a few years, and they have been highly successful in their endeavors this year, winning Debbie Rogers and the state championship.

“It’s surreal. I’m just proud of these kids,” Coach Katie said. “They’re amazing kids, and they’ve worked really, really hard.”

Members of the team continue to work hard throughout the year as well, attending and cheering at every football and basketball game and practicing almost year round.

“When the team first started, we were pretty rough, most of the team was new,” Kyra said. “We only had ten returners this year, but we’ve come a long way.”

Many of the members of the team, however, admit that the challenges that cheerleading presents have shaped them into who they are today.

“As a captain you have to step up and be a role model to the younger ones that are still growing,” Stephanie said. “Cheerleading allowed me to take initiative and do things on my own and be in charge.”

The sport has also helped the teammates come together and develop a stronger connection.

“My favorite thing about being on the team is that we have a very strong bond, and I can go to them for anything,” Kyra said. “We’re not only there for each other at practice but also outside of practice.”