Compete and Conquer

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Layla Costoire, Staff Reporter

Lights are flashing, music is blaring, and crowds are roaring in the large arena as the athletes get ready to walk onto the mat. Imagine your heart pounding like it is about to come out of your chest, while a feeling of adrenaline starts to rush through your blood. Everything you have worked for has led up to this performance. You only have one shot to give it your all and prove that you deserve to win. Cheerleaders from all over have this feeling every time they are about to compete. All they want to do is prove that they are the best team out there.                             

Competition is the biggest factor in the cheer world. Not just glitter and makeup go into being a cheerleader. Cheer routines have specific criteria that must be worked on in order to have a tight performance with a chance to win. The biggest three factors are stunting, tumbling, and dance. 

Stunting being the biggest percentage of a cheer score sheet, takes up 40% of the entire score. This section includes the main stunt, pyramid, the basket toss, and any other lifts. A main stunt is made up of three bottom people lifting their designated top person while they display different skills and flexibility. The pyramid is basically the same thing, however, it is connected with other stunts to make one big building performance. Amaily Leandry, who is a cheerleader at the Liberty All Stars, is both a stunter and tumbler. Although she has many other skills to perform, the pyramid is the section she worries about the most.

“It’s like the grand finale,” Leandry said. “If anything goes wrong with the pyramid, the rest of the routine is just a waste.”

 Last, but not least, there is the basket toss. A basket toss is when three to four bottom people toss the top person into the air while they perform a skill and they catch them. If one of these skills were to fail, there would be a consequence, which happens to be a deduction.

 Robin LaBrutto, a coach at the Liberty All Stars, develops stunts for the teams at her gym. She makes them hard enough for them to max out the score, but easy enough for them to execute.  

“Deductions are the biggest cost of a loss. They are also the biggest fear when you go on the mat,” LaBrutto said. “It is when something goes wrong, whether it be a fall, athlete collisions, or a tumbling touch down, the judges will take a larger amount of points off the score sheet after the performance is over.” 

Believe it or not, tumbling and dance take up most of the routine. Now, you might be thinking, didn’t you just say stunting takes most of the score sheet? Well, it does. However, these two elements are what is constantly being performed. Tumbling is all the flipping skills, such as: cartwheels, roundoffs, tucks, and more.
Dance is all the motions and actual performance skills that occur during competition. 

In every section, even while displaying stunts, you will see these two elements specifically. The hardest thing about it all is that you can have all these hard skills and maybe even feel like you prepared to the best of your ability, but you never know if there’s someone better. Evelyn Rencher, the owner of the Liberty All Stars, picks when and where the teams of her gym compete. Whether the competition is far or near, she always picks somewhere she feels is best for them.

“Competition is so difficult to win because you never know if there’s someone getting even better,” Rencher said. “Worst of all, you never know what the judges are looking for.” 

Amaya Rosser, who is also a cheerleader at the Liberty All Stars, has been cheering for the past five years. She’s been on both winning teams and not so successful teams, but on both, there was one similarity: perform.

“I feel like people do not realize that we only have one shot to give it our all,” Rosser said. “We might perform our best, but someone might see that and use it for their motivation. So, in reality, we are performing at 100 percent, TIMES 100, and even with that you would not know until the award ceremony if that was enough.”

Every single competition is different. You can practice for hours, days, and even months, but still never know if there’s someone out there who outworked you. There’s only one idea in a cheerleader’s mind: compete and conquer.