Makayla Erdman shows leadership in cheer and marching band


Running across the football stadium, senior Makayla Erdman darts from the cheer sidelines to the marching band halftime show. With her roles as a marching band field commander and cheer team member, Makayla spends every Friday night both cheering and performing for FHC.

“You kind of lose the shame of sprinting in front of the entire crowd pretty early on,” Makayla said. “[Going from cheer to band] requires a lot of quick changes that you just have to figure out.”

When Makayla advanced into high school, she was faced with the reality that marching band and cheer are in the same season and both require a great amount of commitment. However, instead of choosing between them, she decided to balance both. Since freshman year, Makayla has been a member of both the varsity cheer team and the FHC marching band.

After joining the Forest Hills Cheer Team in elementary school, Makayla was hooked and has continued to cheer ever since then. Since she has been cheering for such a long time, Makayla has made many close friends due to the large amounts of time spent together. She also uses cheer as a place to stay active.

“If I’m ever upset, [cheer is] an outlet for me to exercise,” Makayla said. “A lot of my friends are there too. I’ve been with these girls forever.”

You shouldn’t feel like you have to choose between a fall sport and marching band. It’s totally possible to do both.”

— Makayla Erdman

Makayla has been involved in band since sixth grade. When she had the opportunity to select an instrument to focus on, Makayla was inspired by her aunt to play the flute. Makayla has a very close emotional link with band.

“I love it because not only do you get to make music, which is an incredible thing and changes lives, but also so many of my close friendships are in band,” Makayla said.

Since Makayla has been playing for so long, she was promoted to a field commander this year. As a field commander, Makayla plays the piccolo. The piccolo is very similar to the flute, but it is heard more prominently since it is an octave higher. As a field commander, Makayla presides over all the flute players. In order to make sure they are prepared for performances, she sometimes leads extra rehearsals to work out issues that they are having. As section leader, Makayla has learned valuable leadership skills that can help her be more successful in cheer as well as in life.

“Being in leadership in band teaches you a lot of different ideals and how to work with a bunch of different personalities at once,” Makayla said. “Translating it over to cheer, we have a lot of different personalities there and being able to work efficiently with all of them.”

Makayla has to work hard to manage both cheer and marching band in the fall. Every Monday and Tuesday, she has to attend both cheer and band practice. On top of that, she also has to fit school work into her time.

“I kind of just do my best [to manage both],” Makayla said. “I try to do my homework during school. It’s a lot of late nights.”

Sometimes, Makayla finds it difficult to manage her time between cheer and marching band. She sometimes has to leave the cheer sidelines early in order to prepare for the band performance. While this split of time may be very stressful to manage, Makayla has the full support of both of her superiors.

“[Coach Steensma and Ms. Zilhaver] definitely encourage me to do both,” Makayla said. “They think it’s awesome that I can do band and cheer. It’s definitely difficult, but it works.”

While there may be some trouble in having two activities in the same season, band and cheer have played a large part in Makayla’s life. She has made many memories and friends through these activities.

“[Band and Cheer] definitely allows me to have more friends and bigger opportunities,” Makayla said. “It’s super sweet to have that family atmosphere in both entities. It’s really nice because I’m in two different friend groups. Cheerleading has a totally different personality than band does. To be able to play both parts is super fun.”

Makayla hopes that she can inspire others that want to play a fall sport and be in marching band. While it can be stressful at moments, she is very glad that she has the opportunity to do both band and cheer.

“You shouldn’t feel like you have to choose between a fall sport and marching band,” Makayla said. “It’s totally possible to do both.”