Mature cheer team bringing competitive edge


Neveah Jones

The Coppell cheer team supports the Coppell football team against Irving MacArthur on Nov. 27, 2019 at Buddy Echols Field. This year’s cheer team has a smaller number of underclassmen and a much larger number of upperclassmen.

Anjali Krishna, Co-Sports editor

Last year’s Coppell cheer team had exactly one senior – Coppell High School 2020 graduate Morgan Murley. 

In stark contrast, heading into this season, the Cowgirls have 10 seniors and an overwhelming number of upperclassmen overall, forming a team with a very different dynamic.

According to cheer coach Alexis Irons, this is a change for the better. As Irons herself was new last year with a largely inexperienced team, both learned as they went along. 

“It was a good learning year, we were growing together and establishing what we wanted as a team,” Irons said. “The girls who are on varsity are now two-year members, which makes it a lot easier to get things done and to establish routines. It makes it so much better for me as the coach, because I can focus on other things that need to get done and I can rely on upperclassmen to take those leadership roles on.”

Routine complexity is expected to increase on two accounts: having more confident cheerleaders and a change in the JV and varsity team placement. In previous years, the varsity cheer team was only open to upperclassmen. The rule was lifted this year, allowing many competitively experienced sophomores to join as well. Further, performance is expected to have a small upgrade thanks to the maturity of the upperclassmen that have been cheering together for years.

“It’s probably easier to learn routines with having more senior girls on the team who have more confidence, they’re more willing to take risks and model for the younger girls how to do motions and proper technique,” Irons said. “They’re not as hesitant to put themselves out there as the younger girls are. In leadership, confidence and showmanship on the sideline, the younger girls definitely look up to the older girls and look to them for an established presence on the team.”

Irons thinks cheer is a sport that heavily emphasizes team bonding, trust and relationships. With only a few experienced members for the younger girls to go to for help last year, the team had a harder time working towards the bond they needed. 

“When I was new to cheer, it was definitely a scary experience, so we try to make sure it is as comfortable for younger girls as possible,” Coppell senior Makaylie Montague said. “The more of us, honestly, the better because the younger girls can be closer with some of us than others, and there’s just a lot of girls they can ask. Because we have more experience, we have more to teach and offer to younger girls and it’s cool being the actual seniors who get to be the role models and help younger girls.”

Regardless of the welcoming upperclassmen, the underclassmen still feel pressed to match their older counterparts’ level of success. 

“It puts pressure on us because when we get to that point, we want to be just as good as they were for the underclassmen,” Coppell sophomore Lindsay Rozas said. “But it’s also helpful, the seniors are super nice and we’re all one big team so they don’t think they’re better than anyone else. There’s big shoes to fill since they have been doing this way longer than any of us, and they know how things work. ”

However, both Irons and Montague agree the underclassmen will have no trouble reaching the standard expected of them. 

At times though, issues arise from the uneven distribution of authority by grade level. Differences in opinion about decisions out of the hands of the cheer leadership team often take long winded discussion or argument to be finalized.

“There are just many different opinions, and since they’re in the same grade, there’s not any level on who gets what say,” Rozas said. “Learning new routines with all the upperclassmen can be a little bit harder because that’s actually where the most booking heads happens. There’s so many different opinions about how things should be during the routine but we have captains, so that separates the authority which helps a lot.”

The new dynamic brings new opportunities to the cheerleaders as the team continues to work the kinks out and as they head into their season. 

“They still need to learn their limits and areas of growth, and with time on the team they’ll naturally find that groove for themselves,” Irons said.

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