By Reland Tuomi, Guest Writer
The patter of sneakers hitting the linoleum gym floor creates a rhythmic melody of athleticism. Each jump kick brings the girl closer to cheer perfection, and every cheer rips through the air with enthusiasm and school spirit.
Cheer tryouts have begun.
Tryouts began this week on Monday evening in Olson Gym and concluded on Wednesday. The potential cheerleaders learned the school cheers, routines and dance numbers, all in hopes of the opportunity to audition in front of a panel of judges on Thursday.
“We watch throughout practice, looking for how well they work with other people and stay on task, as well as how well they respond to me,” Kristen Barten, cheer head coach, said.
On the first day of the tryouts, the girls partnered up after learning a few moves, then practiced with and critiqued each other.
“We had a really good turnout this time,” Michelle Kalista, 2011-12 cheer captain, said. “There’s a lot of potential.”
In order to learn the longer cheer routine, the girls lined up in front of Kalista in about four rows of seven, keeping their order and shape as square and crisp as a military formation.
After learning the steps, the first row moved to the back and the entire formation moved forward in order to allow each row to get a forefront view of Kalista teaching the routine.
The hopeful cheerleaders go to all three days of tryouts to learn the cheers, practice the routines and memorize the dance number. After the three days, they are screened by a panel of judges and then selected for the squad.
The judges look for possible cheerleaders’ “voice and motion, their dances and personality and their stunt group if they have any tumbling,” Barten said. She said judges also consider if they feel a try-out would have good potential for the squad or not.
Barten said the squad cheers every home football and basketball game, travels to the University of Puget Sound games and tries to go to one away game for football, because “they usually have less games than the basketball team.”
The squad, however, does not cheer competitively.
“It’s tough to get into that realm,” Barten said, because the practices and weight room workouts twice a week do not give the squad enough time to cheer competitively.
As for the coming season, Barten said “the turnout was big this year. Seeing the level of talent, I am optimistic and I expect to have a bigger squad.”
Kalista, on the other hand, said, “there’s no telling right now” about the team’s numbers this season. “It’s good there’s more people this year in case people drop out or get sick so we can absorb that loss.”
As for aspiring cheerleaders, Kalista said it is never too late to try and plan for the future. “You can always give it a try next year,” she said. “Come in, see if you like it, because it does end up being a very rewarding experience.”