With movies and television shows such as Bring it On and Hellcats glamorizing the cheerleading tryout process, people are left with an unrealistic perception of what it takes to make a cheerleading team. Cheerleaders are dubbed as the pretty, popular girls who jump around and smile at sports events. However, it takes a lot more than a pretty face to be a part of the cheer team.
At Woodland, the tryout process involves three nights of hard work, skill, and athleticism. Each night consists of two-hour sessions complete with running laps, stretches, and cheerleading skills. Head coach, Leigh Graveline, shares exactly what she looks for in potential cheerleaders during the three night period.
“We are looking for athletes who are willing to work hard and are teachable,” says Graveline, “They just need to show that they can quickly learn new skills.”
These skills include a good form in motions, jumps, tumbling, and stunts. During the first two nights of the auditions, athletes are being analyzed and given helpful feedback on how to improve their skills before the final evaluation on the third night. In addition to practicing skills, the potential cheerleaders are expected to learn a sideline cheer and dance within the first two nights in preparation for the final assessment.
Graveline and her assistant coach, Tina Dirubba, begin the judging process on the third night of tryouts. The hopeful cheerleaders gather into selected groups of three and perform in front of the coaches’ watchful eyes only.
“[Being separated into groups] alleviates the athletes from feeling intimidated by their peers watching.” explains Graveline.
Once the night is over, each contender is handed an envelope stating whether or not they will be cheering on the sidelines for the Hawks during the following school year. An average of ten girls out of about thirty will receive bad news that night. The cheerleaders who did not make the team are given valuable suggestions and are recommended to try again the following year.
However, the tryouts are just the beginning for those who did make the team. The cheerleading season starts almost immediately in June and lasts until March of the following year. Throughout these months, the cheerleaders are expected to participate in a numerous activities, such as tumbling lessons, attending a week-long camp, decorating fields and lockers, and fundraising for the team all while attending practices three times a week and cheering at sports events and competitions.
So next time you’re at a football game, be sure to cheer on the cheerleaders too.