Cheer takes third in first competition of season

NT stunts, tumbles its way to top-3 finish at midwest cheerfest

NT cheer poses in the middle of football game routine in August. They finished on the podium on Dec. 2.


NT cheer poses in the middle of football game routine in August. They finished on the podium on Dec. 2.

On Dec. 2, NT cheerleading took third place in their first competition of the season at the midwest cheerfest at Carl Sandburg High School.

The team not only placed third, but they also hit zero. This means the team got through their entire routine with no bobbles, stunt drops, or other mistakes.

Freshman Tara O’Brien explained, “We have only had one competition so far, but we placed amazing for our first competition and we can only go up from here.”

  Head coach Kelsey O’Kane said, “Each year we will continue to grow. The commitment, dedication and hard work of this team is what will help us realize the greatest success – and we’re well on our way.”

Senior Becca Pollak was content with how are team did for their very first competition.

“I was completely in shock that I was a part of that and was able to bring something amazing back to the school,” she said.

The cheer team participates in competitions almost every weekend, this was their first of the season.

With competitions occurring so often, it doesn’t give much time to perfect their detailed routines.

“I think the hardest part of preparing is when stunts, tumbling, or jumps don’t hit correctly and things that should work don’t,” Pollak explained.

The judges score the teams on all aspects of their routines: stunting, jumping, showmanship, motions, and more.

Senior Emmanuel Ruiz described the scoring system in detail: “Not only do we get scored for doing these things, but technique also gets accounted for in the scoring. Within the categories, there are different difficulty levels. “

When it comes to presenting their routine and worrying about scoring, it is easiest to get points from showmanship (how the team presents themselves on the mat through smiling and facial expressions) and loudness.

The most nerve racking part is hitting the stunts and tumbles.

“The hardest part is perfecting it. It doesn’t take long to know your part, but then you have to make sure your motions are sharp and that can be hard,” explained O’Brien.

The team brings high energy to the mats and is learning many new stunts and getting more advanced, per O’Brien.

A lot of time and effort was spent perfecting the routines they brought to the Sandburg competition.

“We are in the weight room twice a week. A typical 2.5 hour practice includes setting up our mats, a dynamic warm up, review of changes, drilling new skills, stunts and editing our routine counts to maximize our score,” said O’Kane.

Pollak added, “It took all the way from late October to early December to perfect and get ready for our first competition this year. Now we are working on creating a bigger and better routine for the upcoming season.”

It is clear the judges are looking at several different aspects in a single cheer routine, from the cheerleaders smiles to their flips in the air.

Preparing for the competition weeks of practice, according to O’Kane.

“There are so many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit together just right. On average, a competitive routine can take up to eight weeks to perfect. Once you get to this point, you start adding difficulty until you’ve put your absolute best out there,” she explained.

With the ICCA championship just around the corner on Jan.5, the team will be changing the routine. “It’s hard applying the changes, but we do it and we make it work,” explained O’Brien.

The cheer team is a tight-knit family, and they are there to catch each other when they fall (on and off the mat).

“Cheerleading has an amazing number of wonderful, hardworking, and loving boys and girls,” said Freshman Mimi Wagner. “The cheer team is an amazing place to be yourself and feel accepted.”