Cheer makes school history with top 10 national ranking

The cheer team poses in front of Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The team made school history with their first ever top 10 finish in the National Cheerleading Championships.

Morgan Ewing, Staff Writer

Cheer has made school history with their first ever top 10 finish at nationals.

“I’m just so proud of them,” said Melissa Smith, who co-sponsors cheer with Rachel Green. “This is the third year we’ve gone, so we’re relatively new to traveling to nationals, and we know that it takes years to make it to the top. I’m so happy with the way they progressed.”

To step up their game at this year’s National Cheerleading Championships, Smith said they hired a coach who cheers for the University of Memphis.

“She’s won a couple of national championships herself, and so she came in to help with choreography to make sure that the routines were clean and to fix anything that you need to fix,” Smith said. “We worked hard and we practiced at least three days after school, sometimes more, and with practice about two 2 1/2 hours give or take, sometimes longer than that to get ready.”

The hard work paid off in Orlando when they stepped on the mat at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

“We got sixth in Game Day and 10th in our Traditional routine,” said senior Arissa Elion, who’s competed at nationals since her sophomore year. “This was by far the best time down there.”

Smith explained that Game Day is basically what cheerleaders do on a Friday night to get fans hyped up for a football game.

“It’s how excited they can get the crowd based on defense or offense,” she said. “We do a band chant and then we do our fight song. Traditional is more pyramid stunts and it has a small dance portion.”

Unlike Elion, freshman Emmie Gevers didn’t know what to expect at nationals.

“This was my first time going,” Gevers said. “I watched videos of teams from previous years to get a feel of what it would be like. It was so cool seeing the big stage and all of the cheer teams.”

Gevers, who departed Olive Branch with her team on April 20 and returned April 27, said the experience wasn’t just about practicing and competing.

“We were able to go to the Disney parks, which was so fun,” she said.

For Elion, the trip was also a way for the cheerleaders to get to know one another better.

“We went to Disney Springs, the Disney World parks and a bunch of other Disney World places,” Elion said. “We also did team bonding, which was swimming at the resort and eating pizza.”

For Smith, seeing the team perform as well as they did in a year that has been affected by the pandemic was valuable, she said.

“I think that it just tells them that they can achieve anything,” she said. “This trip was a lot of hard work from them, especially with the difficult year because of practices changing and regulations and rules changing, so I think this was the perfect way to end this crazy year.”

After giving her best effort, “The next thing is to try out for next year’s team, then see where the road leads,” Gevers said.

Cheer tryouts at The Hill will be from 4 to 6 p.m. May 10, 11 and 12 in the PAC.