Coach Changing Cheer Program, Image

Kelly Pien, Opinion Editor

From the coach, to the rules for tryouts, to the practices, to the uniforms, all the way down to the boxes the cheerleaders stand on, the cheer program has been revamped this year.

New coach Jessica Herndon said, “I changed the uniforms to show that positive changes were being made.”

Herndon wants to change the program entirely. “My goal for the year was to implement new coaching styles and overall, revamp the program,” Herndon said.

According to senior co-team captain Kendall Henderson, their last coach, Lindsey Nakashima, coached at Campolindo for 3 years before leaving for a new, non-cheer-related job.  Then, at the start of this year, the newly hired head coach abruptly resigned, and Herndon took over.

Herndon has been a cheerleader for 10 years, and a gymnast for 14.

Henderson said the transition has been going well. “It’s not too different, actually,” Henderson said in comparing Nakashima and Herndon.

Senior co-team captain Sabrina Sergott said they accomplish more under Herndon. “She’s stricter, but I think that’s a good thing, because we get more stuff done, and at the end of the day, we have more time.”

Freshman cheerleader Victoria Andersen agreed. “I think she’s a really good coach,” Andersen said. “She keeps us disciplined and pushes us to be the best we can be. She makes sure we look uniform and in-sync and everything like that.”

For the first time, freshmen were allowed to try out for the cheer team this year. According to Henderson, previous principal Carol Kitchens did not allow freshmen to try out, however, current principal John Walker lifted the rule this year. Now there are 7 freshmen on the team.

“I didn’t realize how scary it could be to perform in front of big crowds,” Andersen said. She enjoys performing stunts. “I like flying. It’s like my new favorite thing. I’ve always been a dancer, so I enjoy learning the routines.”

Sergott thinks that the freshmen have integrated well. “I always consider them part of the older girls,” Sergott said. “If anything, they’re more willing to learn, they’re more positive, they have more spirit. They’re always excited to be at practices and cheer and stuff.”

According to sophomore cheerleader Brooke Finegold, the 14 cheerleaders, all of whom are girls, practice two days a week from 4 to 5:30pm. During a practice, they will first run and stretch to warm up. Then they will practice stunts, and finally they will go over cheers and the half-time routine they will perform at that week’s game.

Another change this year is the location of cheer practices. From mid-November to the 1st week of December, the cheerleaders practiced either outside or in the hallway due to the limited athletic space as a result of the ongoing multi-use room construction. “We’ve been making it work,” said Henderson.

Normally, the cheer team practices in the small gym for most of the year, according to Herndon. During the winter sports season, when the wrestling team used the small gym, the cheerleaders practiced in the cafeteria.

According to Herndon, in mid-November, there was confusion as to when the cheer team and the wrestling team were scheduled to use the small gym. According to administration assistant Carolyn Daughton, who manages the school’s master schedule for facility use, there was miscommunication between herself, Herndon, wrestling coach Bob McLaughlin, and athletic director Tom Renno on whether or not a new place for the cheer team to practice had been found.

Daughton said it “all comes down to space with numbers during construction, but nobody’s trying to be difficult or selfish with their use of things.”

For now, the cheer team will share the small gym with the wrestling team. According to Herndon, they are considering moving off campus, but that plan is still tentative.

Another one of Herndon’s goals for the program is to earn more respect. “Cheer,” Herndon said, “is a really hard sport to get respect from because it is so much controversy between being a club and being a sport and I don’t think people realize how much hard work the girls put in for games and performances just like any other sport.”

“I don’t think people give us enough credit for how hard we work and learn cheers, and then go out and perform them,” Andersen said.

Sergott said they are creating “a different image” for the cheer team.

“I would like to think that I’m moving the program in a positive direction and gaining more respect as a whole,” Herndon said.

The team cheers for football in the fall sports season and basketball in the winter sports season.

Henderson is looking forward to cheering at the basketball games. “I think we’re going to have a great basketball season. I’m really excited for it. I think the cheerleaders will throw out a great season,” she said.

According to Andersen, they do not cheer at any sports games in the spring season. They practice for the grand finale rally during that time. The team may also attend cheerleading competitions as the program grows.

“I just want everyone who’s on the team to continue doing it next year. I want the other kids at Campo to see the changes this year and want to join the team,” Sergott said.