Bringing Home the Gold
Every year the Quitman High School cheer team takes time to prepare for cheer camp. Cheer camp is a summer camp that allows cheer teams from across the nation to bond, perform, and grow. This year the QHS cheerleaders attended the University of Southern Mississippi for one of Universal Cheerleaders Association’s (UCA) camp sessions. Cheer camp provides teams with the opportunity to not only explore potential colleges but also grow as leaders.
To some, a gym full of hundreds of cheerleaders may seem terrifying, exhausting, or crowded, but to the cheerleaders, coaches, staff members, and parents, it is a gym full of opportunity, improvement, and leadership. Throughout the four days spent at the University of Southern Mississippi, cheerleaders learn a Gameday Routine consisting of a cheer, sideline chant, and band dance as well as a Rally Routine consisting of a dance, pyramid, and tumbling. In the midst of learning routines and counts for the performance, cheerleaders from all over gather center stage to form connections with each other through spirit chants, upbeat dances, and laughter.
Over the course of four days, each girl is tested emotionally and physically. Long hours, strenuous practice, and stressful situations are not just possibilities. They are expectations. Although it may seem like the world is ending because a stunt is not quite working out, teams are closer than ever because they learn to deal with situations and step up to the plate to become the best version of themselves. The bonding experience of each team is precious and unique. Whether it be sitting in a hallway in the wee hours of the morning eating Chinese food delivered in the rain or having a dance battle at any instant of a “three minute water break,” cheer camp brings the girls together in an effort to better their sportsmanship, team, and experience.
The last day of cheer camp is a showcase for routines learned, but cheerleaders take home various chants, activities, and cheers to incorporate into pep rallies and football games.
The cheerleaders’ goal in any situation is to remain positive, and the incentive award at any cheer camp varies, but UCA camps choose to have their campers go crazy with spirit for the chance to go home with a banana, spirit sticks, or both each night. As absurd as it sounds, there is nothing more memorable than chanting with a team in hopes to obtain a banana or spirit stick.
Before the performance on the last day, each team was evaluated on a few portions of their Gameday and Rally Routine. This year Quitman earned a superior ribbon after each evaluation in the Gameday cheer and Rally Routine, and, at awards on the last day, the QHS cheerleaders took home 1st in Gameday Cheer, 2nd in Sideline Chant, Overall Champion in Gameday, and 2nd in the Rally Routine. It was an amazing way to end cheer camp and begin the new cheer season. Even though the stress of performing may have overwhelmed some, when our cheerleaders hit the mat, a wave of calmness surrounded them. Through hard work and dedication, each girl grew as a person, a cheerleader, and a leader. The stress of a week away from home as well as learning new material may have taken a toll on the girls, but the bonding experience taken away from camp trumped any tear shed. Senior recognition, team exercises, a pep rally, and heart to hearts were some of the most defining moments of cheer camp.
~This article was written and submitted by QHS Senior and Cheerleader Jacy Waltman.~