By Yumna Ahmed Qazi ‘17 and Kaelah Blanchette ‘17
T-R-Y-O-U-T-S! Cheer on with the cheerleading squad, who are looking for girls who are interested in joining so they can boost morale and school spirit during games.
With football season at its peak and varsity basketball season on its way in December, the cheerleading squad wants to find students who are willing to put their all into the sport and be able to juggle school at the same time. Ms. Joanna Alonso, the coach of the squad, described tryouts as an intensive and a lengthy process.
“It definitely requires perseverance and dedication. Cheerleading is year-round, so when girls express interest in cheerleading, I emphasize the fact that they cannot be on another team,” she said.
Ms. Alonso begins with checking the student’s grades or anything teachers have to say about them. Once she finds out that the student isn’t failing any classes, they can be interviewed by the current captain and herself. If the girls can pass the interview portion, they get the green light to attend practice and learn a few cheers that they’ll be tested on. If they know their cheers, the older cheerleaders will teach them a portion of the halftime routine and then they will be tested on everything.
Shanice Whyte ‘17 described the different positions a student can apply for if they’re not strong in one area.
“There are 3 divisions: leaders, boosters and twirlers,” she said. “For leaders, you have to do all the things that require you to be flexible, like splits. The boosters are the loud ones, the ones who yell out their support for the team and keep the energy up. The twirlers just twirl away using batons.”
Kristy Valdemar ‘17 spoke of Ms. Alonso’s coaching method and her enthusiasm for cheerleading.
“Ms. Alonso can understand us better because she’s closer to our age group,” she said. “She’s easier to get along with but she knows when to be strict and treats us equally.”
Ms. Alonso was on Midwood’s cheerleading squad from 2007- 2009. She stated it was a large part of her high school experience because it helped her become more outgoing and confident. According to Ms. Alonso, her cheerleading experience not only influenced her coaching style, but who she is as a person right now.
“It was nice being able to see my friends and talk to people I would’ve never spoken to otherwise,” said Ms. Alonso. “You use Facebook to document your memories and I see pictures we took at practice and games and it just makes me smile. It’s a nostalgic feeling.”
Due to her coaching style being based off personal experiences, Ms. Alonso tries to emphasize the importance of being proud to wear Midwood’s colors and realizing that while the girls are out representing Midwood, they’re also representing themselves.
“Before I became the coach, the girls based the squad on seniority. It took a little time for them to realize that wasn’t going to happen with me there,” she said. “If you’re a senior, you’re going to have to put in as much effort and dedication compared to a girl who’s trying out. Seeing the girls evolve and working as a team is a really big deal to me.”
Whyte and Valdemar both agreed that joining the squad felt as though they had a second family.
“If any of us are having problems with school or life in general, we know that at least one of us will be there to support each other,” Whyte said.
Ms. Alonso stated that the time and location for tryouts will be announced. Midwood currently does not have a field available for the cheerleaders to hold their practice and have adjusted to using the dance room. However, there’s a high possibility that tryouts will be held in the lunchroom so the girls can have more space.
“Whoever’s interested, just listen up to the announcements and look out for any flyers or posters,” she said.