State College

On Assignment: Squads bring out fans’ school spirit

The State College cheerleaders at the girls’ basketball game on Thursday.
The State College cheerleaders at the girls’ basketball game on Thursday. adrey@centredaily.com

Be aggressive. B-E aggressive. B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!

If you can read that without chanting it, you haven’t been to as many high school sporting events as I have. Especially for the winter sports of wrestling and basketball, I know all the cheers. It’s impossible to not have them in your head as you sit through events in mostly quiet gymnasiums. Fans usually only applaud after points, or when they want a big move in a wrestling match, but the cheers, they’re going all through the event.

Each school has some unique cheers and traditions to pump up the crowd. Some feed off of Penn State’s “We Are” chant. At State High football I’ve heard a “let’s get rowdy” chant; at Philipsburg-Osceola there is the “Mountie rumble.” I know for a long time I took for granted the difference that the cheerleaders make. The crowd doesn’t interact as much as the cheerleaders usually ask them to. And the teams usually don’t seem fazed if they’re being cheered on to play some defense. But they’re always there, loud and upbeat.

I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel. A back flip? Yeah, right! So I give a lot of credit to the these girls and boys who go out there jumping, flipping, tossing in the air all while cheering and having smiles on their faces. Sometimes they’re doing all these things as the school’s famous mascot. It takes a lot of flexibility, strength and trust to have your teammates flip you through the air, without any padding or helmets on and usually with a hard wood floor as a landing pad.

At State High I chatted with coaches Danielle Boyd and Jessica James, who said they’re at the events as spirit ambassadors, bringing out the school pride. They, along with most of the schools in our county, are about giving everyone the opportunity to cheer. I’ve seen coed squads and special needs cheerleaders sharing their enthusiasm.

In the past few years , the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association recognized competitive spirit as a sport, complete with state championships. This past weekend Philipsburg-Osceola was selected to travel to Hershey to compete in the small team category. In the CDT newsroom, we had a debate about the name “competitive spirit,” but the consensus was that whatever you want to call it, it is a sport. It can be competitive, and they sure do have spirit. And it adds a positive energy to all the other sports.

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