Ready? OK!: Behind the scenes of cheer

Kavya Iyer, Content Editor

Kavya Iyer
Co-captain Yuriko Akeyama smiles as she stands on top of the pyramid during cheer’s performance at the Homecoming rally.

At each rally and football game, Lynbrook cheer impresses students with impeccable balance, acrobatic skill and synchronization. However, what it does outside of the school events students see, such as its collaboration with the Miller Middle School cheer team, is for the most part, a mystery.

The official Lynbrook team is broken down into two groups: the stunt team and competition team. The stunt team is comprised of five team members selected by Coach Afton Usry. The team performs in a competition division in which members showcase a one-minute routine of as many stunts possible in the given time frame to demonstrate their skill. On the other hand, the competition team is made up of both returning and interested new members, as well as students who are not already on the cheer team. These students must demonstrate their commitment by making cheer their top priority.

“I want the girls to get the same experience I had when I was in high school and learn that they are strong and can accomplish anything they set their minds to,” said Assistant Coach Nicolle Brown, a former cheerleader.

Outside of school events, cheer participates in competitions. The most recent competition took place on Oct. 13 in Santa Cruz, where their extensive training paid off when the team placed second.

“When you go out there, you’ve done your routine so many times that your muscles know it, and you automatically know what’s coming next,” said senior and co-captain Marie Karpinska. “You can really enjoy being in the moment and experiencing the environment cheering alongside your team.”

Although Karpinska and senior and co-captain Yuriko Akeyama are the only team members who had previously competed, the competition team maxed out on showmanship, only losing the minimum amount of points from one stunt fall.

“When we placed second, I had this huge rush of emotions, but it was mostly pride,” said sophomore Ashley Tsao. “I was so proud of our team, especially because we had worked so hard to reach this level.”

Cheer also expanded this year by collaborating with Miller Middle School’s new cheer team. Sixth grader Chloe Chan wanted to start a team, so she worked with her mother and Miller Principal Amy Steele to put the team of five together over the summer. The team cheered with Lynbrook at the football game on Oct. 5.

“The older kids were really nice and helped us learn quickly, and since we were all cheerleaders, we could relate to each other even though there was a big age difference,” said sixth grader Natalee Wong.

Lynbrook cheer taught the Miller girls new techniques, such as stunts, and serve as role models for the younger cheerleaders.

“I loved working with the girls from Miller because they were so fun and energetic,” said junior Simi Vanwari. “They also seemed very passionate, so I’m excited to see what they accomplish as they continue their journey in cheer.”

In addition to working with the Miller cheer team, Lynbrook cheer also volunteers at events such as Relay for Life, a walk to raise money for people fighting against cancer. This year, the team set up a tent to cheer on and motivate participants. The cheerleaders also go to Christmas in the Park, where they decorate a tree as a tradition every year, and get food from Johnny Rockets afterward.

Since bonding and working together is vital for the cohesion of the team, the students are paired up, so that if someone does not know the material, they can ask their buddy for help. There are consequences if a team member does not know the cheers, which teaches the girls accountability.

When students witness the performances by cheer at school events, such as rallies and football games, they often do not see the immense focus, dedication and perseverance required to make it happen. Countless hours of practice. Multiple stunt falls. Fatigue from running routines over and over. Yet, the friendships forged through bonding, volunteering, meeting new people and performing have become memories that cheer will cherish past high school.