Prep Sports

Cheerleading takes physical, mental strength

HS journalism: It's not about looks

Xavier senior Maddye Cavanaugh (top) cheers for the Saints and Kirkwood. (Maddye Cavanaugh photo)
Xavier senior Maddye Cavanaugh (top) cheers for the Saints and Kirkwood. (Maddye Cavanaugh photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier senior Maddye Cavanaugh has dealt with stereotypes the past four years.

“A lot of people think cheer is just standing on the sideline and looking pretty,” said Cavanaugh, who cheers for the Saints and Kirkwood Community College.

“I wish people knew how many hours of practice go into cheer and the physical and mental strength it takes to hit stunts and progress.”

Cavanaugh puts in twice as much work as other cheerleaders since she is on two teams. She takes classes at both schools, making her eligible to be on multiple teams since they are non competitive. Some weeks, she cheers every night between the two squads, not coming home until after 10:30 p.m.

Cheerleaders put in many hours of work to pull off the stunts seen at games and pep rallies.

“It is hard work and the things we do are kind of crazy, if you think about it,” Cavanaugh said. “There is so much trust needed in cheer and I think that brings us closer.”

Cavanaugh needs to have complete faith in her bases, otherwise the stunt could fail and someone could end up injured. Members of the squad also need to be in top shape in order to have the strength needed to hit the stunt.

Cheer also requires being a leader and being dedicated.

“It’s not about looks that will get you the position or make you a great leader,” teammate Aleece Grafton said. “It’s about the dedication, organization and effort you put all into it.

“Maddye isn’t just pretty, she is a hardworking leader.”

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Cheerleaders are expected to have 40-plus cheers memorized and perfected. In addition, they usually make posters or goody bags for the players.

Cavanaugh is graduating a semester early and plans on joining Coe College’s squad in the spring when she enrolls full time.

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