CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Vance High School Cougars cheer squad is made up of 14 varsity cheerleaders and 10 junior varsity cheerleaders under the direction of first year coach Crystal Jones.
The number changes every week, but the ladies have a total of about 50 cheers memorized, says Jones.
“The cheerleaders practice together and learn together. We are hoping to compete in cheerleading events this year as well. This will be an element of cheerleading that most of the squad members have never experienced before,” Jones said.
Below are five questions with coach Jones as we learn a bit more about the Vance Cougars cheer squad.
1. If you had to summarize your cheer squad in just two sentences, what would you say?
Jones: The 2011-2012 VHS cheerleaders are phenomenal athletes, leaders and students. We have the talent to take this squad to heights that VHS has never seen before.
2. What is one thing people may not know about your cheer squad?
Jones: One thing that people may not know is that we have eight seniors this year who are acting as great leaders. We also have a mixture of newcomers and veterans, which adds a lot of diversity to our squad and promotes opportunities for team building and getting to know one another on a personal level.
3. What is a typical practice for your squad like?
Jones: A typical practice starts with study hall for an hour. The cheerleaders are students first, so their academics take priority. During study hall, the cheerleaders work on homework, visit other teachers for tutoring, or work on creating banners if they do not have any homework. After study hall, we begin practice with stretching and warm up exercises. We spend about 45 minutes practicing new stunts and sequences as a whole (JV and Varsity) and as individual squads. These sequences will later be used for pep rallys and cheerleading competitions. We spend the last hour of practice as individual squads. During this time, we practice, learn, and create new cheers. We go over logistics of the game and discuss activities and upcoming dates for our individual squads. Practice normally ends with some kind of conditioning such as running or stadium laps.
4. What is the most rewarding part about coaching these young women?
Jones: The most rewarding part about coaching these young women is watching them grow. Even within this first month of coming together as a whole, the team and every individual has improved more than I could have ever imagined. We chose each individual for their talents and what they could add to the squad. We knew they were already great and we know what they are capable of. I am just thankful to oversee such a talented group of athletes.
5. How do you tell your squad members to balance their school, cheerleading, and social lives?
Jones: Balance comes with discipline. Implementing a study hall session before practice has really helped the cheerleaders to understand that academics come first. Balance within the social aspects of school is also important. We constantly discuss with the cheerleaders what it means to be a leader of the school and a role model to others. Their actions should always reflect the morals of the team.