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Nobody can accuse the Clover High School cheerleaders of not being on time.
The CHS cheerleaders entered the Forestview High School football stadium nearly an hour before kickoff on a recent Friday night, ready to support their Blue Eagle football team.
“We arrive early to give the cheerleaders time to do all of the things they need to do before the game starts,” cheer coach Leigh Alston said.
Being on time is part of the cheerleaders’ regimented structure and mindset during the fall sports season.
“Our cheerleaders have been going full force,” Alston said of extensive preparations for a busy fall season.
With the competition season slated to begin Sept. 29 at the Fort Mill Jacket Invitational, the cheerleaders practice Monday through Thursday after school.
The cheer squad lifts the spirits of Blue Eagle players and fans every Friday night.
“Once the competition season begins, it’s a six-day week for the them,” Alston said.
“They have to be in great physical condition,” she said. “Preparing for the competition season is more physically and athletically demanding than five years ago — the stunts, the total preparation it takes to reach the level of competition we face.”
Alston said competitive cheerleading is a team sport.
“The cheerleaders have to battle through injuries the best they can,” she said.
Cheerleader captain Jekayla Thomason understands the physical demands of competitive events.
“We try to be physically fit and guard against injuries,” she said. “If a cheerleader goes down with an injury, it’s difficult to replace that person in a pyramid.”
Thomason said each team member has to be mentally and physically prepared for the competition season.
“Every cheerleader has to have the mindset it takes to succeed,” she said. “It all has to come together as a team.
“A lot of bonding takes place.”
Thomason said preparations have been demanding.
“We’ve been practicing from 3:40 to 6 in the afternoons,” she said. “We do a lot outside of practice time, including tumbling and the mile run.
“We have team sessions to go over what’s working and what’s not working.”
Thomason wants her senior year to be special.
“We want to make it to the state,” she said.
So does senior cheerleader Lariqueka Moore, who is entering her fifth year of competitive cheering.
Moore said the cheerleaders devoted much time to offseason preparations and the grinding schedule continues.
“I don’t think people know how much time we put into preparations for the competition season,” she said. “We continue to work hard every week.”
Concluded Moore, “The key to success in the competition season is to pull together and not fall apart. We need to stay focused for the Friday night football games and the competition season.”
With the competition season approaching, Alston said 80 percent of practice time is devoted to the competitive cheerleading slate.
“The cheerleaders will always be there for the football team,” she said. “Beginning Sept. 28, it’ll be football on Friday night and competition Saturday.”
Alston said some of the stunt preparations are incorporated into the Friday night routines.
Two pep rallies are planned during the fall season, one for homecoming and the other for the rivalry game with York.