MOUNT VERNON — If you’ve attended a Mount Vernon sporting event in recent years, you may have noticed a difference in this fall’s cheer team.
Not only has the size changed and grown, but the cross-section of members, the level of cheerleading and the crowd participation have grown in tandem.
“Today’s cheer team has a great variety of people on the team and most of the cheerleaders are involved in other activities,” said Coach Trista Lynner.
The cheer team includes people from all grade levels, as well as one boy, something that had not been seen in decades at Mount Vernon.
Matt Recalde, Mount Vernon’s lone male cheerleader, said he decided to go out for cheerleading as something new and different from what one might expect, as well as to express himself. This is true of many of today’s cheerleaders.
“He has taught us not to care what people think of you and do what makes you happy,” said senior Maddie Naeve. “Matt has brought a different perspective on challenging stunts, as well. It’s inspiring.”
The team has grown for many reasons.
“I did cheer because it was a way to get involved with other activities,” junior Nicole Theobald said. “It was also a way to meet new people.”
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Theobald also said cheer has provided her a way to connect with upperclassmen and underclassmen and build new relationships. Forming friendships has been very important to the cheer team.
“This year it was important to install team bonding early in the season and often with little activities so everyone gets to know everyone and builds strong relationships,” Lynner said. “Returners are welcoming new cheerleaders and helping them learn.”
This camaraderie has contributed to the growth of the cheer team, as many of the newcomers joined to participate in something with their friends.
“Even with 21 cheerleaders, I feel like I understand what’s going on in everyone’s life and their goals,” said senior Abby Patten. “We are stronger.”
With this greater connection and variety of people, the cheer team is able to connect with the student section at games. As they can cheer louder and do more and larger stunts with a larger team, the student section has more to cheer about. This in turn shows benefits for the cheer team.
“I feel the group enjoys cheering more today due to the best student section I have ever seen participate in cheering along with the cheerleaders,” Lynner said.
“Going from my freshman to junior year, I have noticed changes in participation,” said junior Annie Leopold, a member of the student section at most games, “The biggest would definitely be the excitement for the cheerleaders.
“I love them.”
Clearly, the rise in popularity of cheerleading has not only grown the team, but it has attracted a greater variety of people with a chance to become a close-knit group. It allows them to do more stunts and louder cheers, resulting in a more active student section cheering alongside them.