Shepard Cheer

Caroline Lepak, Writer

One of the most successful sports teams at Shepard is the cheer leading team. Last year they finished sixth in the state. For Shepard a trip to the state final is an annual event. They placed first or second at all of their competitions and qualified for state 23 of the last 25 years, including seven years in a row. In a typical cheer leading competition teams perform a two and a half minute routine with music that includes stunts, jumps and tumbling and then teams are judged by a panel of cheer leading experts on difficulty and executions. Unless you are around the sport it is impossible to know the dedication it takes. The team practiced all week, four to five days a week for nine months straight. Head coach Nicole Staehlin said, “You have to want to do it. Some students even go to extra open gyms and tumbling classes in their free time.” “If you can’t stay committed to that, then you won’t last long in cheer leading” Staehlin has been a coach at Shepard for eight years. This is her sixth year as head coach. She is a Shepard alum. One of the reasons she loves coaching here is because she feels like she never left high school. Nicole says her motivation to keep coaching is seeing students improve their skills and watching the program become more successful each year. “It’s addicting” said Staehlin, No matter how experienced an athlete is they always can push themselves to do better in some aspect of cheer “Achieving a new goal is satisfying”. Senior Jordyn Johnson, a talented side base in her stunt group, has been cheering for 14 years and will continue her cheer and academic career at Alabama A&M University next season. She is excited about cheering at college football games and travelling around the South. Jordyn says her favorite part about cheerleading is competing and performing with a bunch of dedicated teammates. The most challenging tumbling pass Jordyn does is a whip through (a roundoff back handspring back handspring layout). During the state final, they earned the best raw score in the program’s history at state “they performed their routine perfectly” coach Nicole Staelin said. They unfortunately did not pass and make it to day two because of an unknown illegal infraction which was disappointing and surprising because they had a perfect score for their performance which means they hit all of their stuns, tumbling, jumps, dance and were not given any deductions from the judges on their performance