Editor’s Note: Miranda Cook and Jaylene Garcia are a part of the Oswego Cheer team and are editors on staff but were not involved in this story’s writing, reporting, or editing.
Over the past two years, Oswego High School cheer has experienced restrictions within its program due to COVID-19. However, coaches Maggie Hill and Emily Popp faced 80 participants during tryouts this season. Across all three levels, there are 63 athletes compared to the 48 athletes last year.
According to Hill, it’s due to the restrictions of COVID-19 over the past two years, because of social distancing and not being to engage with one another. As a result of this, they have had a lot of interest.
Relaxed COVID restrictions were not the only reason for so much participation this year but also the hard work and dedication of Hill and Popp over the last seven years. Three years ago, the team was placed last in the conference. However, in the last two years, it has been ranked third in the conference.
“We have very hard-working athletes,” Popp says. “People want to be a part of that, and I hope that we continue that growth.”
“Everyone’s unified as a team, which makes more people want to join and see how happy everyone is together…everyone seems more of a family,” freshman Gia Smith, a member of the varsity squad, says.
Due to the number of participants, Hill and Popp created three cheer teams after only having two for the past several years.
“We wanted to make the floor a little bit more open to who could try out and who could make the team,” Popp says. Now, rather than just having junior varsity and varsity, the team consists of JV Orange, JV Blue, and varsity.
Considering the drastic change in the number of athletes and the addition of a second JV squad, the program has had to adjust to changes in practices. Their varsity level always has a dedicated space for practice; however, for the JV levels, there is a different approach.
“Our JV levels, we can get creative with them. We are looking at those beginner-level skills…if they are wanting to figure out their spacing on the track for a football game, they can go outside and utilize the track,” Hill says.
In addition to practicing routines, the athletes train through many activities and training opportunities to improve their abilities.
“We typically reserve court three and court two multiple days a week…we have weight training…flyer stretch…outside of practice, we have tumbling,” Popp says.
The coaches are not the only ones seeing how this growth has changed the program so do the cheerleaders themselves.
“[It’s] a little bit chaotic. I think it’s…kind of stressful for our coaches,” senior Elle Tweedy, who has been on the varsity squad for four years, says. “The coaches have worked super hard to get new people.”
Another change in the cheer program is the team culture. Tweedy attributes the team’s success to its dedicated culture.
“We set team goals, our values…we want to uphold and present ourselves as, and I think that…focusing on who we want to be has really changed,” Tweedy says.
According to Hill, the cheer program has been able to maintain or surpass their goals each year. The plan this year is no different; the team has set its goals high.
“Our goal is to go to state this year, and I think that we are more than capable of doing it,” Hill says.
You can see the cheer team perform next at the homecoming pep rally on Thursday, Oct. 6, at Ken Pickerill Stadium.
Hi! My name is Liliana Murillo, and I am a senior at OHS.This is my first year being a part of 42Fifty staff. In my free time, I like to hang out with my friends, watch reality T.V, and go shopping. If I am not at school, you will see me working at Riverside Pizza and Pub in Oswego. I am beyond excited to be a Sports Editor for 42Fifty this year!