Spotlight on the Forest Fire Girls

December 7, 2015

Spotlight on the Forest Fire Girls

There is a “secret group”  hidden among FHC  that is composed of approximately fifteen girls, ones showcasing long-sleeved T Shirts that display crisp white and gold lettering. They bounce throughout the hallways, glitter decorating their eyelids, marigold ribbons snuggly hugging their high ponytails.

One of them, senior Autumn Schmidt, eagerly slides into her seat, reminiscing on the times during her childhood when she would stand beside the muddy field, desperately attempting to keep her eyes on her brother but instead being tempted by the girls hovering near the front of the bleachers. Who would have thought that that sport of football would plant a seed of curiosity in Schmidt as merely a tiny, innocent three year old? Who would have thought that while attending her older brother’s games and watching him sprint down the grassy turf, a ball gripped tightly in his hand, she would have such difficulty paying attention to what was happening out on the field? Who would have thought that the gaggle of girls near the sidelines, the ones kicking their legs out in the air, would entice her, instantly diverting her eyes from the end zone and forcing them to linger on the group of cheerleaders in pyramid formation?

“I used to go to his games and dress up in little uniforms,” Schmidt said, smiling to herself in a nostalgic manner. “I always used to hang out with the cheerleaders. My brother being on the football team ultimately inspired me to try out for the cheerleading team in eighth grade.”

Schmidt first started out on sideline cheer and later transitioned to competitive cheer; although many may naively think the two sports are similar to each other, in actuality, they only share vague similarities. Put in simpler terms, sideline cheer is centered around preparing for the competitive season and motivating the football team to bring in a celebratory win. In competitive cheer, however, the team members ultimately cheer for themselves.

Senior Hannah Parshall could not agree more, remarking that the “secret sport” could definitely benefit from some more recognition.

“This year, I would really like for our team to get out there more just so that we can gain more support,” Parshall stated. “Ironically, we want more people to start cheering for us. A student section actually showing up to our competitions would definitely help us win.”

Competitions typically are held Saturday mornings while invitational conferences take place on Wednesdays. In total, there are four types of those particular meets that score each individual group cumulatively; the place that each team receives adds up to a “total score”- one that ultimately dictates whether that team has won conference or not.

There is a lot more that goes into cheering than simply clapping your hands together during encouraging chants and gliding through the air during effortless stunts. The girls are merely good at what they do, and that is what makes it appear easy. The crowd does not get to see them participating in conditioning five days a week. The crowd does not get to see them sprint around the school four times simply to “warm up”. The crowd does not get to see them spending a majority of their time in the weight room to ensure they will be able to securely lift flyers off of the ground. All the crowd gets to see is the final result. Cheerleading is a sport that ultimately embodies the model revolving around “hard work pays off”.

Coach Amanda Dault proclaims that is these weekly competitions, however, that allow the team to showcase their talent, both from an individual and a collaborative standpoint.

“I thoroughly enjoy coaching competitive cheer because it is a chance for cheerleaders to display their aptitudes in not only cheering, but in  jumps, gymnastics, and stunting as well, which is an aspect that is often overshadowed at football game,” Dault said. “ It is a chance for us to compete and be viewed as a MHSAA-recognized sport.”

Competitions are predictable in light of the fact that they typically follow a standard routine.Round one during each competition is when each team performs a cheer and judges are specifically looking for creative ripples and synchronized jumps. Round 2 is the round in which each team is able to performs their best skills, including tumbling, flexibility, and jump; everything during this round must be done in unison. Round 3 is considered the “open round,” where teams show off their elite tumbling and stunting skills.

However, an aspect involving cheer that is not as predictable as the competition format is one regarding who competes in the competitions

“We are currently working on building as one, uniform program since our team now only contains FHE and FHC girls,” Dault said. “Last year, We split from having FHN as part of our co-op since they are going to have their very own team this upcoming year. Our combined team, Forest Fire, currently has a JV and Varsity team and is highly anticipating a successful season.”

Although this sudden change came as a surprise to many members of the competitive cheer team, they have refused to let these modifications dampen their spirits or hinder their drive. They have simply used it as an excuse to get closer to one another, strengthening their bond as a single unit.

Schmidt stated that there are not any “bad vibes” on the team, claiming that although she just joined this year, their acceptance and obvious friendliness has allowed her to form a unique relationship with each individual within the group.

Parshall agrees that even though the team consists of girls from both FHC and FHE, together they are simply the girls of Forest Hills.

“The atmosphere we showcase is one revolving around the motto “we want to win,” Parshall stated matter-of-factly. “As soon as you step into the room with us, you get that feel.The primary goal of competitive cheer is to win and do well. It seems like, right now, the team is currently feeling that whole vibe. There isn’t a single thing about cheer that I dislike. I honestly love competitive cheer because not a lot of people know about it, so it’s kind of like a “secret sport” hidden among our school. I personally have participated in cheer for six years now and I can honestly say that, with time, it just gets better and better.”

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