Girls’ Cheer Stunts into Sideline and Competition Season

The Warriors’ varsity cheer team anticipate the school year full of achievement as their season progresses


Elina Rizi

Alyssa Smith and Nikki Nguyen cheer together for the Woodbridge football team from the sidelines.

With over 40 years of history, the Woodbridge High cheer program anticipates another year of victories and team bonding. The cheerleaders who are adorned in red, white and gold prepare year-round for their seasons months before the school year starts.

While cheer is considered a year-long sport, it is split up into two seasons: sideline and competition. The sideline season coincides with football and basketball seasons, which take place during the fall and winter, whereas the competition season begins towards the end of basketball season.

“We start [training] in the summer and we do what we call free stunting, so we try to stunt anything that’s showy,” senior and co-captain Nikki Nguyen said.

It is the team’s responsibility to engage the audience as much as possible in supporting the football or basketball team. In doing so, they aim to increase the intensity of the crowd through calling out cheers and performing outstanding stunts.

“[The crowd] actually does help the football players, especially when cheer knows what they’re doing…and they’re working together,” cheer head coach Kylie McBride said.

Later in the school year, the cheer team’s competition season begins. Practices entail long hours spent training, building confidence for performances and improving stunts. The team participates in earlier competitions in the year where they receive evaluations and adjust their routines as a result of those responses.

“We learn a routine at the beginning of the year, we set base level skills and then once those are well, we move on to harder skills,” McBride said. “It’s a lot of stunting and less learning cheers.”

Sophomore and varsity cheerleader Bella Anderson recognizes the importance of hitting a full-out, which is practicing their entire two-minute routine repeatedly until they diminish the number of errors.

“Usually we will hit a full-out after a couple weeks after we [do] our choreography,” Anderson said.

However, many fans do not see what happens behind the scenes or the hours of work the cheerleaders put into perfecting their stunts.

“They put in a lot of work outside the few minutes of a routine that [we] see…at a pep rally, they put in hours and hours, blood, sweat and tears,” cheer advisor and math teacher Kathryn Rush said.

Within every team, there is a set work ethic that generates hustle and determination. Senior co-captain Taylor Lucas explains that cheer is “so much more than pom poms and skirts.”

“I think it’s underlooked. We’re throwing people in the air; it’s a tedious thing. The grips, the different sets–it’s very difficult,” Lucas said.

For the 2021-2022 season, the varsity cheer team was runner-up for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Championship. This year, they are hoping to take home the championship and put their best selves out there on the mat to achieve their goals

“I’m hoping we could place first. It’s a long shot, but I think we’re doing pretty good with our chemistry. We all have that drive that we want to be better,” Nguyen said.

The cheer program connects with the Woodbridge community not only by cheering at sporting events, but also by hosting Little Warrior Cheer Camp. At this event, groups of students in the K-6 age range learn fundamental cheers and stunts. Once they have practiced the skills, they relish cheering at a football game for one quarter.

“It’s one of our biggest events… It’s something we all look forward to because we all get to be leaders and we get to show what cheer is,” Lucas said. “There are girls on the cheer team that did Little Warrior Cheer Camp so it’s super encouraging.”

Little Warrior Cheer Camp was held on Sunday, Oct. 16 at Woodbridge High.

Varsity cheer stunts co-captain Nikki Nguyen as they pose for pictures before the big game. (Elina Rizi)

By performing competitive routines and cheering on the sidelines during sporting events, cheer aims to highlight the value of their hard work. Unfortunately, despite their relentless work ethic, the cheer team reports that some are still resistant to calling cheer a sport.

“If more people saw what we did competition-wise and how much practice and work we put in, they would definitely say cheer is a sport,” McBride said. “If you think about every other sport, some are lifting weights. We’re lifting weights but we’re also lifting other humans and it’s a scary thing to [do].”