Cheering Through a Pandemic

Cali A. '23

OLSH’s cheer squad has been practicing and cheering through the pandemic since July. We as a squad have been working really hard to do the best we can in these perplexing times. 

The real question is: what is it like cheering during a pandemic?

It has been strange cheering for both basketball teams and the football team. We have been taking safety precautions when at practice and at games. We all wear masks and try to social distance as much as possible. In other years we would all sit within four rows. This year we all have to spread out across the whole student section. Obviously it is different because we have to wear masks and social distance. Some that were especially different were for football season we could only cheer at home games.

 I interviewed some of my fellow cheer squad members to get their perspective on these unprecedented times. I asked them some questions about how they felt in these uncertain times while cheering. They had some great insight and opinions on how the cheer squad has been handling this. 

Senior Ava DiMichele is the captain of the basketball cheer squad. She says that she feels awkward cheering with little to no fans. The squad usually would have a student section to cheer with. Ava says that it is hard to keep the girls in a good headspace to want to cheer. She states that they have had to come up with some creative ways to engage the crowd that we do have at games.  The squad cheers during every timeout, between quarters, and at half time. In these cheers, we are always trying to incorporate the crowds with call and response cheers. For example, one is “When we say ‘Go!’, you say, ‘Chargers!’” 

When asked if it was weird to be cheering in these times, Ava stated, “For sure. I’ve been cheering for around 7 years now and this is by far the weirdest season I’ve ever experienced. Cheerleaders are usually interacting more with the crowd than the players so I usually feel pretty awkward not seeing many familiar faces.”

When I asked her if she thinks that it helps the basketball teams, Ava says that she hopes it does. She states that some of the players like to get recognized while they are playing and without a student section, the cheerleaders are the ones fulfilling that role. 

 Sophomore Maisy Caromdy says that cheering without fans “…is a good and bad thing. Since I am new to cheer, it’s nice not having anyone there to see my mistakes, but it would be better to have fans to help cheer the teams on.” 

Like Ava, Maisy thinks that it was helpful to the teams to have cheer there to be supporting them while they are playing. She says that while it definitely is not the most ideal situation, we are lucky to even be able to cheer at all.

Junior  Kirstin Pantaleo says that while it is hard to stay loud and pumped up, like the others she feels that it is good to have the cheer squad present at games.This makes the players feel like there’s someone there to cheer them on and that they are not just playing for a camera that is recording them. And not just cheer, she says, but the players’ parents, also. It is good to have these people there to give the team some hope that things could go back to normal. 

While this season may be unprecedented, so is the talent level of our players. Currently, both the boys and girls basketball teams are in the playoffs. Let’s go, Chargers! This cheer squad is behind you!