Berkeley High Cheerleading Gets New Faces
Berkeley High cheerleading is at it again. It’s the beginning of the new season and the team is excited as it hopes to build upon last season’s trip to the USA Spirit Nationals. But a bid for the most prestigious high school cheerleading competition in America won’t come without work. Luckily, the teams have ample opportunities to strengthen their skills before they have to perform again in an attempt to return to the big stage.
BHS cheerleading season is year–round, each season spanning from March to March, during which the Junior Varsity (JV) and Varsity squads cheer at games, camps, and competitions. At school, the JV teams cheer on the JV football and basketball teams, while Varsity cheers for the Varsity squads. However, though the football and basketball seasons have now ended, the cheer teams are still performing.
The teams attend a cheerleading camp at University of California at Santa Cruz over the summer, where they receive professional training in pyramid building, stunting, and dance technique. “It’s a lot of fun,” said head Varsity cheer coach Alette Pittman, This past summer our teams received all Superior Awards, including the Spirit Stick and Unity Award, which were voted on by the other attending cheer teams, which were comprised of over 450 cheerleaders.
The squads also participate in numerous competitions, including the Regional Cheerleading and Dance Competition, in which teams perform in hopes of receiving a bid for Nationals, which is held annually at the Anaheim Convention Center.
In the past four years, the BHS cheer squad has taken home third, fourth, fifth, and sixth place trophies for their performances, the most recent of which earned them a spot at Nationals for the first time in BHS cheer history.
Though neither JV nor Varsity nor the BHS dance team beat out any of the other 4500 cheerleaders also in attendance for awards at Nationals, Pittman assured that “it was an experience that we will never forget and truly enjoyed.”
Of course, though the teams went home from Nationals empty–handed, they still have countless advanced skills. One of the teams’ many strengths “is being supportive of one another,” said varsity cheer Co–Captain Elnora Turner.
Focusing on the technical side of the sport, Pittman added that the “cheer teams have great strengths in stunting and pyramid building,” which are clearly showcased in their stunning performances.
While the teams are each extremely talented at cheerleading and dance, they are also exceptional when out of uniform. The teams have a collective average GPA of 2.70 and have participated at numerous community service events in the Berkeley community, including John Muir’s annual May Day and the Arts Magnet carnival. The girls have also volunteered at local Alzheimer’s hospitals and doctors’ offices.
But, like all teams, the BHS cheer squad isn’t perfect. Turner pointed out that there is some “division within the team” due to a few small cliques. Still, the girls are very supportive of each other and know how to unite in order to perform at their highest potential.
Overall, the girls have had an amazing experience cheering with BHS and the coaches are proud of the teams’ accomplishments.
For Turner, being on the team has helped her find her identity, as her experience has “made [her] a better person” and helped her “discover things about [herself] that [she] didn’t know about” before. The girls also stressed the closeness of the friendships within the teams and acknowledged that everyone is like family to each other.
“We argue, fight, and bicker,” said Mikia Franklin, Varsity cheer Co–Captain, “but, in the end, we love each other and when it’s time to perform we’re a team.”
After the teams’ appearance at Nationals, “the bar has been raised even higher,” said a proud Pittman, “and it’s great.”
Now, if you’re worrying that you’ve missed your chance to join such a passionate, friendly, and talented team, don’t. While initial try–outs for the 2012–2013 cheer season were held in mid–April, additional try–outs are to be held May 21–23 for those who missed the original ones.
And while there are currently no guys on the teams, Franklin promised that “they are more than welcome to try out,” and Pittman still hopes that “one day, someone will try out to break the cycle.”
Clearly, the teams are full of bright personalities, unlocked potential, and talent to talk about. And though they give BHS sports teams the spirit and motivation needed to win, BHS cheerleading is, as Pittman puts it, “more than just cheering on the sideline.”
After their stunning trip to Nationals and countless other wide-ranging achievements, it seems like the BHS community should really be the ones cheering.