The first full week in March is National Cheerleading Week. In an effort to honor and recognize all the hard work, practice, and effort put in by these athletes, in a sport that can often be overlooked, the Daily Guide will be honoring our local cheerleading squads all week. Meet the cheerleaders of Dixon High School.

Cheer Q&A

Submitted by Sarah G'Sell
1. How hard does your squad work? How often does your squad practice? How many hours are spent practicing?
My team works incredibly hard.  We set goals at our summer camp for the season and do what we can to ensure those goals are met.  We practice once a week in the fall. Once the season begins we practice every day that we do not have a game.  Most of my team is also on our dance team so they are often in practice for four hours each day.  

2. What does it take to be a good cheerleader on your squad?
The most important characteristic I look for in my cheerleaders is versatility.  All of my athletes should be able to fill in for each other at any given time.  This also helps give my team a sense of understanding that no role is more important than the other.  If my bases have an opportunity to fly they can become better bases and vice versa.  Every one of my cheerleaders offers something to my team as a unit.  I think that is one of the reasons that what we do works so well.   We have common goals and everyone is aware of what takes to accomplish them.  They work as a team to ensure the entire team is successful and not just one or two stand out.

3. Describe your squad. What are they like?
My team is full of hard workers.  They are continually pushed to do things out of their comfort zones.  They rise to the challenge and I find myself constantly expecting higher standards and developing new goals for them to accomplish.  I appreciate their work effort!  As I mentioned before, the majority of my team are also members of the dance team and everyone of them play alternate sports throughout the year.  They maintain good grades, several have jobs, and they still somehow manage to go above and beyond in all things cheer related.  

4. How long does it take to learn a new routine or cheer?
I am very fortunate that the majority of my team pick up choreography quickly.  They also retain what they have learned so this makes practices run smoothly.  They all know it is my philosophy that we will review but won't have time to reteach.  If they happen to be struggling with something they will often video someone else doing the routine and practice at home.  This goes back to their work ethic.  They know what it takes to get things done and more importantly are willing to to do them!

5. What is the most difficult thing your squad has tried to tackle this year?
Each season we challenge ourselves with bigger stunts.  This year will be hard to top in that area.  I had an incredible team that wanted to go higher and pushed each other to execute higher level pyramids and stunts.  If you had the opportunity to see us perform we hope we gave you a "wow" moment in the stunts that we threw!   the highest level of difficulty MSHSAA allows high schools to do is a kick full basket toss.  We accomplished that and wish we could throw more!

6. What has been a high point for your squad this year?
The high point for me for my team this year was our Homecoming routine.  I challenged my team with creating a routine unlike any of our past performances.  Their music selection and choreography combined definitely surpassed my expectations.  They had moments that highlighted each one our team members strengths and created a routine that will go down in the books as a memorable cheer performance!  We received so many compliments from people from our community as well as from the visiting school.  My team definitely made their statement and wowed the crowd!

7. Are there any particular squad members who should be recognized for anything special? If so, what and why?
I could recognize each of my team members for something!  They work hard to make sure that the TEAM is excellent! I had seven of my team members nominated for the All-American Cheerleader title.  This is given for jumps, stunts, motions, and leadership.  The nominees were Seniors, Audrey Eckert, Trevor Graves, Felicity Houston, Kaitlyn Ray and Kyzee York and Juniors Brady Perry and Lydia Withers. I also had three recognized for The America Needs Cheerleaders program. This award was given to Trevor Graves, Felicity Houston and and Skylar Maddox by staff and peers from NCA camp for their all around good attitude.  Trevor Graves was also recognized for his leadership and asked to return next year as an NCA staff member.  We also earned the coveted spirit stick every day of camp and came home as the winner of the Game Day Performance category, the Stunt Safe award, and the Best Team Stunt trophy.  My team was also honored this season by receiving the Frisco League Trophy for the Best Cheerleading Team.  

8. As coach/sponsor, what are you most proud of when it comes to your squad?
My teams ability to overcome challenges never ceases to amaze me.  They know the "show must go on" and they rise to the occasion.  They do not let setbacks keep them from accomplishing what they have set out to do!  I am proud of EVERY one of my team members and can't wait to see what next year brings!  I will miss my seniors terribly but am excited to see where life takes them and how the underclassmen adapt to their new roles!

9. What is something that people should know about your squad that they probably don't?
People often look as cheerleaders as "props" to a basketball game.  They view them as noise makers and don't put a lot of stock into the fact that to be a good cheerleader you MUST be athletic!  Their 30 second floor cheers don't show the amount of sweat and training it takes to accomplish what appears to be super easy.  We are so much more than a bow and a smile!  Cheerleading is hard.  In order to execute the stunts the team must be focused. The amount of strength it takes to throw a human being in the air does not just happen.  They have to work for it!

10. Is there anything you would like to say about your squad, what they do, how hard they work, etc.?
My team continues to fill my heart with joy.  Their passion for cheerleading and their work ethic is admirable.  I am blessed to be their coach!

Submitted by Mylee Strain
- 11th Grade- 3rd year cheering
1. What do you love about cheerleading?
What I love the most about cheerleading is coming together and supporting our basketball teams and getting everyone excited.

2. What do you find most challenging about cheerleading?
In my opinion the most challenging part of cheerleading is being patient and putting in the time.

3. What is something that you would like people to understand about cheerleading or cheerleaders?
Something I want people to know about cheerleading is that it might look easy to most people but it's very difficult and takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

4. What do you think you work hardest on?
The thing I work the hardest on is perfecting stunts for the crowd.

5. What is your favorite cheer and why?
I don't have an absolute favorite cheer but my favorite cheers are when we come together as a team and do a pyramid to show off all of our hard work that it took to perfect.

6. What are you most proud of accomplishing as a cheerleader this year?
My biggest accomplishments this cheer season was getting my kick full down because it has been something I've wanted to get for years.  

7. What do you think being a cheerleader has taught you?
Being a cheerleader has definitely taught me leadership and team work skills.


Submitted by Trevor Graves
- Senior- 3rd year cheering
1. What do you love about cheerleading?
I like the physicality of the sport.  You use so many muscles you don't normally use. It is extremely rewarding when we accomplish tough stunts.

2. What do you find most challenging about cheerleading?
The multiple dynamics of cheer can hard to get the hang of.  You not only have to be responsible for knowing your part of a stunt but you also have to be aware of everyone else's.  If something isn't working you have to make changes in order to keep everyone safe.  This can be hard to do when you are holding a top girl in an extended position!

3. What is something that you would like people to understand about cheerleading or cheerleaders?
Cheerleaders ARE athletes.  We have to be conditioned and train to do what we do just like any other sport!

4. What do you think you work hardest on?
I have to work on my patience the hardest during cheer.  Sometimes things don't go as smoothly as we would like and we have to be able to be patient when someone is having an off day.  Patience is more important than simply the strength and knowledge of how to do it.

5. What is your favorite cheer and why?
I don't really have one.

6. What are you most proud of accomplishing as a cheerleader this year?
Having so many of us be nominated for All American was heart warming.

7. What do you think being a cheerleader has taught you?
You can be average, you can be good, you can be great, but when it comes down to it you just gotta try.  

Submitted by Felicity Houston
- Senior- 4 year Cheerleader
1. What do you love about cheerleading?
Cheerleading is more than a sport to me.  I love the way we all have to come together to be able to do some things.  In Cheer you can't have one star that carries the team, everyone must try their hardest and come together as a team.

2. What do you find most challenging about cheerleading?
The most challenging thing is always learning something new to keep the crowd excited.

3. What is something that you would like people to understand about cheerleading or cheerleaders?
I would like people to know even though it looks easy it is very difficult.  also, we would love to come to every home and away game but we have to practice on away game nights so we can get better for out hometown crowd.  

4. What do you think you work hardest on?
WE work hardest on our big homecoming routine.  This is our big moment to shine.

5. What is your favorite cheer and why?
My favorite cheer is Step Back because our team made this cheer and we have several memories and remakes with this cheer.  

6. What are you most proud of accomplishing as a cheerleader this year?
My most proud accomplishment would be leading my team to be amazing and just having so much support from our town.  There is no better feeling than having several cummunity members thank you and say they are proud of you for helping our teams have a great year.  

7. What do you think being a cheerleader has taught you?

Being a cheerleader has taught me grace, how to be lud when needed, how to lead and also what a family outside of your family feels like.

Submitted by Sophia Bianco- Sophomore- 2nd year cheerleading
1. What do you love about cheerleading?

I love the positivity and the fun aspect of cheerleading.  Being a cheerleader, you're always getting the opportunity to be spirited.  Your'e spreading positivity to everyone around you, and I love that!

2. What do you find most challenging about cheerleading?

I think the most challenging thing is staying energized.  Being so active all the time can be tiring, but you have to push through it if you want to achieve anything.

3. What is something that you would like people to understand about cheerleading or cheerleaders?

I want people to understand how much hard work we put into cheerleading.  We aren't just here to smile and look pretty.  We have endurance and strength, and we work hours upon hours to achieve our goals.  

4. What do you think you work hardest on?

I think I work my hardest in staying positive whenever I'm cheering because it really shows.  If you're not being positive, people can see it in the way you hit your motions and how loud you yell.  

5. What is your favorite cheer and why?

My favorite cheer is Get Up, Get Ready because the ending sounds cool to me.  

6. What are you most proud of accomplishing as a cheerleader this year?

I am most proud of how much I personally have improved and how much we've improved as a team.  We experienced a lot of hardships but we still stayed strong as a team.  I am proud that we looked past everything to end this year on a good note!

7. What do you think being a cheerleader has taught you?

Being a cheerleader has taught me how to work with a team.  Staying on the same page can be hard sometimes, but in this sport you always have to be!