Senior High’s cheer team does more than just cheer

By Jackie Ruiz, Editor

         Senior High’s cheerleading team offers their support at athletic events and activities throughout the year of 2022-2023.

         Cheerleading coach Tristen Gardner said that cheer is a great way to learn life skills, specifically communication skills and teamwork.

         “Those are things we’ll have to do for the rest of our lives, so it’s a good way to practice those skills and refine them. It’s also a lot of fun to watch the athletics and activities departments be successful,” she said.

         Gardner has been teaching family and consumer science (nutrition) at Grand Island Senior High since 2020. This is her first year as a cheerleading coach.

Tristen Gardner, a former high school cheerleader, is now coaching students who were once in her place.

         “COVID-19 was definitely a strong learning curb, but it’s been a lot better since then, and I’m excited to help students get more involved at the school,” she said.

         She said that the cheer team does a lot more than supporting school events; they also help with community fundraisers and activities. This year, they helped pick up trash from different roads and planned a birthday party for a woman who beat cancer at a senior living center.

         “We do little things like that to give back to the community; they always come to support our students, so we always want to provide some type of civic engagement back,” she said.

         Junior Vanessa Hernandez Pastor said that her favorite memory with the team was participating in the pom parades where students ride motorcycles around Grand Island shaking their pom poms.

         This is Hernandez’s second and final year as a cheerleader. She has decided to join wrestling next year and not cheerleading because of their conflicting schedules. She still encourages other students to join cheerleading.

         “I would definitely influence students to join cheer because it helps balance your home life and your school life. It also helps you grow and become more aware of how people play sports,” she said.

         Tryout practices were held March 21, 22, and 23. Official tryouts were held on March 25. They had 21 applicants try out; coaches will determine who is on next year’s roster soon.

         “We like to see people who have some tumbling and jumping skills but also people who have high character and are able to reflect GISH and our team in a positive way. We look for people who are energetic and enthusiastic,” Gardner said.

         Cheer practices will change at the start of the next school year. Cheerleaders will meet in the auditorium foyer for two morning practices and one afternoon practice every week.

         “It takes a lot of time and precision to get our skills down. We almost always have a backbase, two side bases, and a flier that gets lifted up into the air, so it takes a lot of practice,” Gardner said.

         She said that their goal for next year is to put more of an emphasis on the game day atmosphere and have fun at games.

         “We just want it to be a fun environment where people and our students and parents are engaged and cheering with us,” she said.

         Hernandez said her goal this year was to see how much she improved in comparison to her freshman year. 

         Their goal for state competitions next year is to be in the top half of the categories they compete in. 

         “We get to compete with some really awesome class A teams; class A is a really hard class to compete in, so our goal is to be in the top half of the entries at the end,” Gardner said.

         She said she hopes students who are interested in showing their support for the community and for Senior High’s activities and athletics department tryout for cheer next year.

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