Cheer camp: these two words invoke shudders of both excitement and dread in SJS Upper School cheerleaders. Yet the four days of grueling practice and pep are worth the souvenirs that the cheerleaders leave with—some mean tan lines, well-earned trophies and a variety of Gatorade coolers.
Varsity and JV Cheerleaders attended the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) cheer camp June 10-13, at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
Cheerleaders from Houston schools, including Episcopal High School and St. Pius X, as well as teams from other parts of Texas attended the camp to learn cheers, chants and dances for the upcoming season.
The camp culminated with Game Time Top Team and Champion Chant competitions. In Game Time Top Team, teams performed a cheer accompanied by stunts, tumbling and jumps. Both Varsity and JV squads took home the first place award in their respective categories.
JV also won first place in Champion Chant in JV Division, a competition for the best executed chant. The teams were awarded four spirit sticks for showing spirit throughout cheer camp.
Nightly evaluations took place leading up to the final competitions. JV and Varsity received a total of 12 Superior ribbons, the highest rank, which recognize the team’s excellence in cheer and chants.
Coach Jamie Everett led the two teams to their victories, helping them remain positive through the long days of practice. Her coaching was recognized by the NCA staff with the Herkie Award, an award given to a coach for his or her recognition of the importance of team unity.
Besides attending the 12-hour cheer camp during the day, the teams practiced outside the dorms until curfew every night while other schools’ teams were already going to bed.
JV Captain sophomore Mary Pat Patrizi said, “Even though we ended practice two hours later than everyone else, all the work paid off in the end.”
The hard work also brought the team closer together.
“Whenever we had those nighttime practices, and I felt like I was going to pass out, everyone’s cheering was what really got me through,” JV Cheerleader freshman Inaara Malick.
Support came not only from within the cheerleading team, but also from the football players. Football Coach Alan Paul and a few members of the football team made the early morning expedition to Huntsville to support the cheerleaders in their final competitions and evaluation.
“The cheerleaders do so much by supporting us at games. This was an opportunity to give back and support them,” junior Orion Hicks said. “It was also just really fun to watch them bring in all the trophies.”
Individual awards were given out during cheer camp as well. Cheerleaders were nominated to try out for All-American, a prestigious award given to cheerleaders who exhibited strong skills in areas such as jumps, tumbling or dance.
From Varsity, seniors Mary Ellison, Meg Bres, Paige Albert, Taylor Heeg, Jinni Kim and Gracie Voss, plus juniors Kate Bomar, Tiffany Yue and Sarah Hansen were nominated. From JV, sophomores Mary Pat Patrizi, Phoebe Myers, Lauren Smith, Leah Hampton, Isabella Sturgis and E Robins were nominated.
All-American tryouts were held the last night of cheer camp and results were announced after competitions. No cheerleaders from SJS were selected for All-American, though spirits remained high as the teams happily accepted their competition awards.
Varsity captain senior Meg Bres said, “I’m really proud of how both teams did at cheer camp this year. Both were extremely successful and achieved exactly what we set out to do.”