Cheerleading for the new squad | SteamboatToday.com

Cheerleading for the new squad

New SSMS team forms

Zach Fridell

— Watching the Steamboat Springs High School Sailors cheerleaders support their football and basketball teams recently has created inspiration for more than a dozen younger girls, resulting in the creation of a cheer squad at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Created at the requests of students, the cheer squad is in its second season of cheering and recently has taken the leap to stunts – lifting girls on shoulders to make pyramids.

“I’ve wanted to be a cheerleader since I was 3,” said Megan Limberg, 11. “I’ve always gone to the Sailors’ games and watched them. I thought the cheerleaders were cool.”

When Shannon Payne’s daughter, 13-year-old Shantel, wanted to become a cheerleader at the school, Payne began asking around for options.

“She kept asking me to get a cheer coach,” Payne said. “I wanted to build sports and let the girls do what they wanted to do instead of letting anything hold them back.”

That led her to ask Alohi Madrigal, a third-grade teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary School who has experience cheering, whether she would like to coach the middle school team.

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The team practices two times a week for a little more than an hour and cheers at all home basketball and football games. The squad has almost doubled in size for the current season, Madrigal said, and she would like to see it grow even more.

“Ideally, we’d like to expand it – maybe all home games of all sports – boys and girls,” she said.

Girls in sixth, seventh and eighth grade are invited to join the team as long as they make a commitment to the program, Madrigal said.

The squad has had a boost from the high school’s program, as well, with girls from the high school teaching the middle school girls cheers and tips on cheering.

From that starting point, the middle school squad has started to create its own cheers and design its own moves as members learn stunts.

“Doing stunting is really hard because you have to work a lot harder at it,” said Savannah McKendrick, 12.

“It’s not something you can memorize like that,” she said as she snapped. “You really have to work hard at it to not let the flyer fall.”

In addition to the memorization, Heather Seams, 13, said the stunting work also requires a heavy dose of concentration.

“When you’re stunting, you have to be a lot more serious than when you’re doing cheers,” she said.

The girls will continue throughout the basketball season. The next game is Dec. 2.

Madrigal said an advantage of expanding in the coming years will be to be able to split into two teams. When the girls cheer for basketball games, they often cheer through seventh and eighth grade junior varsity and varsity games.

“That’s four hours of cheering. Wow, that’s a lot,” said Madrigal.