Meredith Carpenter finds fulfillment in cheerleading


At just nine years old, junior Meredith Carpenter had no idea that her decision to participate in a fun fall sport would impact the rest of her life.

I started sideline cheer in fourth grade after seeing how much fun all of my friends were having,” Meredith said.

When she joined the sideline cheerleading team in fourth grade, what seemed like a simple choice made out of childish desires became the first step in her now long and successful career in the sport.

Meredith started out, like many cheerleaders, through the school’s youth cheer program. She learned to cheer and tumble in her youth, and now, the Friday nights of her fall are characterized by her use of these skills out on the sidelines.

“I like sideline because I get to be a part of such an amazing atmosphere where I am surrounded by amazing people,” Meredith said.

Being one of only three freshmen to make the varsity, Meredith has had three years filled with Ranger football players to cheer on and fellow Ranger cheerleaders to meet. Her three seasons have brought her some of the best times of high school so far.

“Being under the Friday night lights is the best feeling,” Meredith said. “I don’t enjoy when we lose a game, but then again, nobody does.”

In addition to her fall sport, Meredith also partakes in a winter sport as well: competitive cheer.

While both of these sports entitle their participants as “cheerleaders”, there is a vast multitude of differences between them. Sideline cheerleaders help to celebrate a different sport, football, while competitive cheerleaders compete in their own competition against other cheer teams.

“Sideline and competitive are very different,” Meredith, who has been involved with competitive cheer since eighth grade, said. “There isn’t as much pressure when it comes to cheering for a football team in front of a student section filled with all of your friends. [With] competitive, you have to create three different routines and perform them in front of judges who seem to never show any emotion at all.”

Though Meredith is a proponent of both sideline and competitive cheer, she values the two for very different reasons. While the environment that sideline engenders gives her a sense of happiness, competitive fulfills her in more, for lack of a better word, competitive needs.

“I love the performance part of competitive cheer because I can be a completely different person on the mat when it comes to vocals, being loud, and having the craziest facial expressions,” Meredith said. “I don’t like the drama that can come along with dealing with other teams, though.”

The stereotype that cheerleaders can be dramatic may be true, according to Meredith. However, the stereotype that cheerleading is a lesser sport, or in some people’s opinion, not a sport at all, is one that she takes particular offense to.

“I wish more people understood how much work and effort goes into this sport; yes, I said sport,” Meredith said. “[The cheer team] works out in the weight room twice a week like other teams, [and] we condition like other teams too. Cheerleading is underestimated too much.”

“I wish more people understood how much work and effort goes into this sport.” ”

— Meredith Carpenter

Meredith has many fiery opinions about cheer and holds a fierce loyalty to her sport. Her passionate nature has also served her well with her involvement in student council.

“I like student council because I’m able to be more involved with what goes on in the school,” Meredith said. “Planning assemblies, dances, and spirit weeks are just a few of the many responsibilities placed on us, and I love it.”

She has been involved in student government, in some way, shape, or form since third grade and it, along with cheer, has helped to prepare her for a successful future.

“Cheer has taught me many different social skills and has helped me stay fit and healthy,” Meredith said. “I have learned to socialize with people and to stand up for myself and my team, and I think that’s an important characteristic to have.”

Meredith has always been able to connect with people because of her openness to new experiences as well as her kind aura. She is well prepared for the future thanks to the lessons she has learned.

“I have learned to work through the hard days life hands you,” Meredith said. “Just because you may be having the worst day doesn’t mean you can’t change the way you view things. Attitude has such an important impact on how you live life, and manipulating the way you think can turn your day around in a heartbeat.”