Cheerleading is often pushed aside and called an “extracurricular activity.” But, what many people don’t realize is that it is a true sport.
Cheerleaders put hard work into their sport, just like any other athlete would.
Like any other team sport, the cheerleaders have to learn routines and stunts, like basketball players have to learn plays. Like a volleyball team, cheerleaders have to practice regularly and dedicate themselves to the sport. Just like football players, the cheerleaders have to work out. Cheerleaders are also held to the same standards as every other athlete in Kansas.
Both the Solomon junior high and high school teams work hard and try to support each other. Jodi Howard and Ashlyn Guerrero coach both teams. They both cheered as young girls and had a strong passion for the sport. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the junior high didn’t get to have a team last year, but is rebuilding this year.
“I just wanted to make sure that middle school had a chance to cheer this year,” Howard said with a smile on her face.
Both Guerrero and Howard were excited to have a group of young girls to mentor and shape as athletes.
“They don't come with any previous training,” Howard said. “So it is easier to train them technically.”
Like Howard, Guerrero enjoys the teaching aspect of coaching.
“[I like] being able to pass down what I have learned,” Guerrero said.
All are welcome to join cheer and learn about the sport of cheerleading.
Those who want to try out for the high school team should come join the team at a few practices.
“Come practice and hang out with the current cheerleaders to see if it is something they actually want to do because it’s a sport that lasts all year,” Howard said.
Howard and Guerrero are trying to build a program and a sense of continuity by having the high school team involved with the younger girls.
“We have the high school girls train the junior high girls at the beginning of the year, and help out when they can,” said Howard. “Nicole Price has been an asset this year and is at every practice and game, we play good cop, mean cop. [Nicole plays a mean cop] She helps every way she can.”
“She is kind of like another assistant coach,” Howard said, laughing as she spoke.
The girls are looking forward to everything the winter sports season comes with. The coaching staff and the girls are excited for their basketball season to start. Guerrero is most looking forward to her favorite cheers--stomping cheers--to echo through the gyms. Howard is looking forward to passing her love for the sport of cheerleading on to another generation of young athletes.
“I'm excited for them to love cheer and want to get better,” said Howard.
Photos by Nicole Price
Editing by Luka Hayes and Alana Wood