By Sreya Kumar
The beginning of the boys varsity basketball game started with the arrival of the MVHS Cheer team, who walked in with their heads high, and their smiles wide. People in the stands cheered, as the players took their spots in the court. Meanwhile, the cheer team prepared themselves in the specific section set aside for them in the purple stands.
For sophomore Hannah Risher, it was a night to remember. Although this was not her first time cheering at a quad game, it was her first time captaining the Cheer team in a major game.
[The game against Lynbrook HS] was very fast paced but I think it was a very fun experience.It was exciting [but] there is so much to pay attention to in the game. It gets a little stressful because so much is happening at once, but it’s a great experience because I’m able to lead the other girls through that. -Sophomore Hannah Risher
Unlike Risher, a majority of the cheerleaders were new to cheering at basketball games, as most of them have only cheered in football games. Sophomore Lucy Liang shares her experience as a rookie in cheer.
“It was my first basketball game and it was pretty fun just to be there,” Liang said. “When you are cheering for the game, it’s a lot different from when you are just watching the game because it feels like you are more into it … like I’m a part of something.”
For Liang, this experience, though memorable, was nerve-wracking, as she wasn’t sure what to expect. Risher used her role as captain to help the new members out.
“[This responsibility] makes me feel really happy because I get to be there for the other girls,” Risher said. “Last year, I know that my captains were always there for me and they led me through everything. It’s a big honor to help the other girls through that and I try to keep in mind that this is their first basketball game in high school.”
Liang also points out that both football and cheer vary from culture to atmosphere. For example, even though football games have bigger turnouts, the Cheer team focuses on engaging the audiences. While in basketball, despite the smaller turnouts, the team focuses on supporting the players.
Risher also states that football games tend to be longer, so the Cheer team has more time to organize themselves and prepare their cheers.
“I have more time to call cheers, more time to organize stuff,” Risher said. “There’s also more pressure because everyone is watching you constantly, so you have to make sure that [you’re] conscious of everything you are doing because people can see you.”
Meanwhile, both Cheer team members explain that the intensity of basketball games is much higher, and while the team doesn’t focus on engaging the crowd, they still have to call out cheers on the run. Risher also explained that due to the lengthiness of football games, the excitement of the crowd constantly dips and goes up periodically, like a wave, while in basketball games, the crowd is always on their toes and the excitement level is always high.
“In basketball, you are a lot closer to the crowd, in the sense [that] you can feel their energy,” Risher said. “Cheering for basketball probably gets a little bit more stressful [compared to football] because it changes from offense to defense pretty quickly. So, you need to constantly pay attention.”
While the basketball teams practice for league games, Liang explains that the Cheer team also starts preparing for their performances at the varsity games. Risher describes that the procedure to prepare for the cheers for the games is long and that the team starts learning the cheers before winter break. In preparation for the quad game, the team had a little debrief on what to wear, what to do if the ball changes possession and how to act.
Risher also further explained that the Cheer team is split up into three groups, and that for normal boys varsity games, only one of the three performs. However, the quad game was different as two groups performed at the same time.
“I guess it gives more volume, and girl power [to our performance],” Risher said. “With more of us there, we were able to have more of a presence in the gym, because in quad games you have rivals come in and their supporters in the stands. So, we want to be louder than [them] and cheer for our team.”
Looking back at their performance and the game, Liang and Risher both hope that they will be able to participate in more school-wide events like the quad game, as it gives them a sense of being involved in the school community.
“Even though being a captain [in the quad game, for the Cheer team] is a huge responsibility, it was a nice experience overall,” Risher said. “There were a lot of supporters for the LHS team, but we were able to show them that this is our home, our game, through our [the Cheer team’s] presence.”