Cheerleaders look into what their season may-be

Allie Vasquez

The shining fluorescent lights; the thump of the students banging their feet on the floors of the bleachers; the flashes of red and white as players scamper around on the basketball court, and each grade loudly cheering. These are the sounds of the rallies and sports games that students used to look forward to, which are now long gone and dearly missed. Cheerleaders, an integral part of basketball and football games along with rallies, have not been able to practice or perform since the middle of their 2019-2020 season. Social distancing has taken a toll on the cheer team, especially the seniors, who have lost their final high school season.

The cheerleaders hold their ending pose at one of last year’s football games (Photo courtesy of Fin Bunting)

Seniors who are losing their final moments with their team hope the day that we can return back to campus is in the near future. Senior Fin Bunting, who has cheered since his freshman year, is especially sad because he is not able to spend his final season with his teammates.

“What I miss most is my teammates,” Bunting said. “None of us took it super seriously as a sport. It was more of a thing to do because we were all so happy together and enjoyed the fun of it. Now that that’s gone, it’s not as fun anymore. It was such a little community.”

Bunting also described the cheer team as a way for him to branch out of his comfort zone. Performing in front of over a thousand other students is something that most teenagers rarely do, but for cheerleaders, it’s a monthly occurrence.

“[Cheerleading] helped me be more confident,” Bunting said. “Once you realize it’s not that big of a deal, it’s fun. It helps you warm up to cheer and to life in general. It helped me trust myself and my teammates more.” 

The cheer team also helps students structure their schedules and have an athletic outlet. Georgia Larson, a junior flier, benefited from the schedule that cheer helped her create.

“[Cheer] helped me with my time management with school and doing my homework. Being online, I have less motivation. Even though I have a lot more time to do homework, I mostly do it at the last minute because I have less of a schedule,” Larson said.

The team prepares to catch their fliers after helping them flip in mid-air during a football game from last season (Photo courtesy of Fin Bunting)

Varsity coach and Redwood alumna, Shannon McGuiness, is also disappointed that she and her team are not getting to spend this year’s season together. McGuiness was on the cheer team throughout high school, started coaching her senior year, and continued after she graduated. Due to the pandemic, she has had to brainstorm ways to keep her team safe and follow guidelines while practicing and performing.

“I plan on not stunting this year, just for the sake of keeping social distance between everybody. [I will be] mostly focusing on their skills and how sharp their arm angles are and improving dancing skills because we’ve never really used to have the time to focus on that,” McGuiness said.

Because of the tricks and stunts they do, coming into close proximity to one another is difficult to avoid, but the team is doing its best to ensure safety. As surrounding counties’ case numbers rise, the future for the cheer team is still unknown. With the football season starting next month, the cheer team hopes to join them and begin their season as well.