To say this week has been a long week is an understatement for the Juneau-Douglas High School cheer and stunt team.
Arriving in Anchorage early Monday morning, the team barely had time to get situated in their hotel room, get to a practice at South Anchorage High School for the 2012 March Madness Alaska State Cheerleading Competition. Then they grabbed a meal and got back to the hotel for a good nights’ sleep, awoke before light, prepared both body and mind for strenuous activity and spent the day in athletic competition against 22 other schools. Oh… and they had to do it with smiles and a good frame of mind.
And they won the state title — two state titles in fact: the 4A large school Co-Ed Division (a two-and-a-half minute routine) and one of two new Time-Out (60-seconds) categories.
“I am really excited about it because we worked so hard all season to get it and it showed that all the hard work paid off,” JDHS senior, and elite cheer team member, Chelsea Kilgore said. “People don’t understand how dangerous cheerleading can be and how much work you have to put into it. We are not just yelling on the sidelines and just jumping around. We are trying to be one unit moving together.”
The cheer team’s state competition didn’t end when they won their title. They next tried to help the Crimson Bears boys and girls basketball teams during state hoops title run attempts; two games a day for three days.
“The misconception is that this is not a sport,” JDHS cheer coach Carlene Nore said. “That we just jump around and say a couple things during the game and then we walk away.”
Hectic schedules are not uncommon for this year’s squad. Nore wasn’t hired on as coach until Thanksgiving.
“It was quite a crunch time to try and get everything together,” Nore said. “And to try and get uniforms for 22 kids.”
Of the 22 cheer and stunt team members only five had cheered basketball before. A couple had been past football cheerleaders, a few play football, some are swimmers, and 10 are seniors (including two managers and two are elite cheer competitors, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores
Swimmers Dakota Isaac, Cierra Kelly and Addie Ramonda have to juggle strenuous swim workouts with taxing cheer duties. Team members must find time for homework and keep high academic standards and good health. Miss a practice and that infraction is treated like an other sport.
Hall of Fame football player Jerick Ibias has scored a few touchdowns on the football field. Now he cheers when someone else scores on the basketball court.
“It is definitely a sport,” JDHS stunt team member Ibias said. “I have to lift girls, jump really high, do a lot of stunts and cheers. It is completely a sport. I don’t know why people say it isn’t. I can hear the cheerleaders when I am on the football field and I don’t really think about it too much until after the football game when they are still cheering for us. Now I am doing the same thing for the basketball team. It is really cool. Lifting someone over your head is something that is hard for your peers to give you a hard time about.”
Ibias is being recruited by the University of Hawaii; for cheerleading. Also doing double duty is football player George Sua.
“It is fun cheering for the Crimson Bears team,” Sua said. “It is not an easy sport. In a way it is harder than football. It is way different from football yet each helps the other sport. I respect the cheerleaders when I play football now that I have cheered.”
Cheer practices are normally five days a week for three hours a day and team members can expect there will be an extra day or two almost weekly that involves a basketball game or event and requires arrival before 5 p.m. and dismissal after 10.
That schedule seems to work. The Crimson Bears are state champions.
“I was so happy and we saw some great competition routines out there,” returning cheer member Haley Klemmentson said. “Some were so amazing. I was so shocked and happy that we could compete with them. Watching all the teams compete, seeing their stunts and the fun they have inspired us for next year. It is so fun seeing everybody else. People think this is easy but it is not.”
The JDHS Cheer and Stunt team has been invited to perform at the JDHS dance team’s Showtime season finale on April 13-14 at JDHS.
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