Cheerleaders reach for higher goals
Cheerleading has evolved from one person yelling through a megaphone and hoping for a responce to armies of squad members and potential national championships.At Glenwood Springs High School, games and competitions are equally important to this year’s squad.The current squad sticks close to the sport’s roots – performing and spurring the crowds who attend Demon games on to victory.But, with no teams to root for the next two weeks, sqaud practice is shifting to competition mode.Starting Saturday, and the weekend after, the Demon cheerleaders primary focus is to put themselves in a position to earn a national championship.Two years ago, Glenwood obtained berth to the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s Nationals in Orlando, Fla., and the school’s coaching staff of Lynn Goluba, Kim Richardson and Jody Jordan are high on this year’s squad’s chances of repeating the effort. “We’ve been practicing every night and on Saturday’s for months to get the girls ready,” said Goluba. “Competition’s only two and a-half minutes. But it’s an intense two and-half minutes.”That intensity will rise to a fever pitch when the Demon cheerleaders begin their quest this Saturday in Denver when Glenwood competes at the United Spirit Association’s Rocky Mountain national qualifying regional at Highlands Ranch High School.The Demon cheerleaders return to the Front Range the following weekend to participate at the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s regional competition at Englewood High School.Earning a national qualifying berth at either event is not easy.Winning competitive cheerleading routine consists of:-Crowd response chants. Cheerleaders use visual, verbal cues or signs to prompt a reaction from their audience. -Synchronized movements. This element consists of uniform motions and jumps where a squad’s togetherness is measured.-Group formation changes, where squads can move to a different position.-Intricate partner stunts, where squads do a series of group or partner lifts involving a number of team members.Other parts to a well-choregraphed routine include team gymnastics and accompanying music that enhances the squad’s performance. And just to add more pressure, the entire routine must be completed within 2.5 minutes.Richardson, whose coached the Demon cheerleaders for more than a decade, and a former cheerleader at the high school said the time is, “the fastest two and half minutes that I know of.”From the original list of competing schools, only the top squads advance.By cheering for the school’s football, soccer and volleyball teams, the Demon cheerleaders got plenty of competition experience prior to this week’s event.Last month, Glenwood finished fourth in the high school division at the Six Flags Elitch Gardens Spiritfest.Prior to the start of summer practice, coaches Lynn Goluba, Kim Richardson and Jody Jordan made a decision toform a competition-only group within the entire squad. “Once the athletes were on the squad, we wanted to give them a little more motivation to improve,” Goluba said of the decision. “We sat down individually with each of them and went through their skills, school performance and their behavior and we told them exactly what we expected them to improve by August.”Each squad member was evaluated by the coaches at that time. All were retained to perform at school functions. But those who reached their individual goals made the competitive team. According to the coaches, the move was well received by the students.”It was something we discussed with them,” Goluba said. “They thought this system was more fair, because the people who worked real to improve would be rewarded with a position on the competitive squad.”The squad-within-a-squad system, Jordan said, has been successful.”They has done a great job. They have done everything what we have asked of them. Our performances at halftime of football games have been well received,” said Jordan.And those performances has raised the level of school spirit among the GSHS student body to new heights.”Our goal for them is to have fun,” Goluba said. “If they are hitting with the crowd and the crowd is cheering back with them – they are having fun. And that’s what we want to see.”Hitting in cheerleading is the way cheerleaders work with a crowd. They hit by moving forward toward the stands, then use motions, words and signs to get response back.Response is important in both game and competitive cheerleading. At both, if the crowd yells back the squad, they have developed a relationship to the fans. “The performance is the same at games and competition,” said junior Tessie Tracy, a member of both cheer squads. “You have to go out there and smile and have a crowd in front of you – it reflects how a competition is.” The competition squad consist of 16 members. But, the three non-competitive cheerleaders play a key role to the team.They dress in uniform and attend all events the competitive squad attends. And, if an injury forces a squadmate to the sidelines, a non-competitive squad member can replace a fallen teammate.The coaches are thrilled about the way, the current squad’s been able to balance the game and competive elements so far, and Goluba sums up their peformance, as most fans do when they watch the cheerleaders.”They do their jobs,” the coach said. “And they are good.”
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