What does it take to be a Meridian cheerleader?
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The Meridian cheer squad is made up of twelve members, including three seniors. They are coached by Kelley Mullaney, who is also a math teacher at Meridian High School. The squad cheers at all varsity and JV basketball games as well as varsity football games. Not only do the cheerleaders cheer at athletic events but they participate in cheer competitions.
The cheerleaders have a long summer of practices- 3 days a week from 8-12. On top of all of the practices they go to a week-long camp which Riley Peterson says improved the squad drastically.
Like most fall sports, a cheerleader’s work continues in early August when they have a month of hard practices getting them prepared to cheer for football. It doesn’t bother the cheerleaders to work hard, Peterson explains, “If we want to be good we’ve got to put the hours in, just like everyone else. And we always manage to have fun at practice even when we come to work really hard.”
Once the normal season starts, the hard work isn’t over; the girls now get into competition cheer which was created last year. “For competition everything is different. We practice hard for two hours straight, and on saturday mornings for three. It has been really hard losing four girls total this year because each time we have to redo everything. But we put in a lot of hours and you can definitely tell the difference,” says Peterson. It doesn’t stop there, the girls have also been taking tumbling classes in preparation for competition.
Competition cheering can be nerve-racking for the cheerleaders, even the coach as Mullaney states, “I get extremely nervous before competitions. It’s not that I’m not confident in the team’s ability to perform and compete but my adrenaline gets going and I’m anxious about them hitting everything they need to. It’s an excited kind of nervous though.”
It’s a good thing for the cheerleaders to feel nervous because that motivates them to perfect each routine, and practice it until there aren’t any flaws.
Being a Meridian cheerleader isn’t all work though. When the cheerleaders aren’t practicing or competing they all enjoy hanging out together. “We hang out a lot. Even before the season started all the girls came to my house and we just hung out and got to know each other. And after every practice we would go to lunch or go do something fun. And now we all get ready together before games,” Peterson explains.
The squad has come a long way, and they are building a strong foundation for squads to come. “The squad this year has improved exponentially. They have really worked on their stunting and tumbling abilities and have been able to try some higher level stunts. When we made our goals for the season, that was one of them, and they are doing a great job at accomplishing that goal. This year there is more of a unified team and it truly seems that they are friends and teammates as opposed to just teammates. These ladies have set a great base to rebuild the Meridian Cheer team for years to come! They really have set the bar high!,” Mullaney says proudly.
It’s easy to appreciate the cheerleaders when you realize the hard work and talent it takes to be on the squad.