Winter Cheer: The Highs and Lows

As the winter cheer season comes to a close, the winter cheerleaders reflect on the many games, laughs, and stunts that came alongside the basketball season.


Taken by Amelia Chen

On Jan. 24, Phoenix cheerleaders sophomore Isha Vepa, junior Tia Carter, freshman Almendra Del Aguila, and junior Prerana Telugu perform a cheer in unison at the basketball game against Tuscarora. “We almost got hit by a ball like two [or] three times, we just kinda stepped back and kept watching. We literally laughed about it afterwards — it’s always fun to support with these wild things happening.” said Telugu.

, Lucian Tiller, Rodrigue Gomado, and Abhi Sharma

Since the winter sports season started, the Phoenix cheerleaders have been positioned on the baselines of every basketball game, demonstrating their dedication to the school in a display of enthusiasm.  

From Frost Fest to double headers, the team encourages the spirited Phoenix Pit in the stands. The winter cheer season has been successful in the team’s goal to support the basketball team by providing support for players and unifying spectators in the community with their rallying cheers.

Q: What does an average winter cheer practice look like? 

Sophomore Christina Wilson: We go over cheers in practice and work as a team to fix what we need to fix. We practice everyday and we usually have three games a week, and we all work together in practice to sync everything up and make it look better.

Sophomore Reagen Carper: A normal practice for us is either somewhere in the hallway or in the lounge [where] we would be going over cheers. We’re either always yelling or someone is always laughing over something. I’m always laughing at everything; the first couple practices that we had, it was all laughing for the most part. No one [can be] taken seriously, because we’re always laughing at something stupid or if our coach said something to make us laugh.

Q: What has been the hardest part of winter cheer?

Sophomore Isha Vepa: The hardest part probably is the practices. We just started tumbling and stunting and all that, but it’s super fun because I know that regular cheerleaders don’t usually do that, and coach is trying to get us prepared for fall cheer [next year].

Wilson: When there’s a lot of people in the crowd it’s stressful because [the crowd is] overwhelming.

Q: Do you ever feel like there was a moment where you felt like you were in sync with the other cheerleaders? Or a specific game you felt the team did their absolute best at?

Vepa:  I don’t know why, but outfits for me have always been a huge thing.  The fact that we’re in the same outfit doesn’t [necessarily] make me feel better, but it’s the fact that all of us look the same. There’s not really like “she looks bad” “she looks good,” it’s just all of us are the same and no one’s differentiated. 

Junior Prerana Telugu: I think that [January 21]’s [game was my favorite], because it was a double header, so we had two games. We were all stressed, but we pulled together and it was a really good game. We were all tired, but we did it.

Wilson: The night of Frost Fest, because we were all there together. There were a lot of people and we were all in sync. We won that night, so everyone was more excited, and I was more confident that night because there was so many people that I knew there.

Carper: Frost Fest and the game against Riverside. I think that’s the game we did our absolute best because our coach was really proud of us that day. 

Q: What is something that really inspired you about this season?

Vepa: I thought it would be like the movies where it’s all these girls and they’re super mean, but no one’s mean, they’re so sweet. I do know that all the girls who are on the fall team are trying to place in [competitions], so they’re [working] really hard on all these stunts. I’d really like to get on their level and finish off with getting a lot of stunts down.

Q: What was the most helpful part of practice for winter cheer? 

Telugu: The fall girls who were in [Fall Cheer], like [junior] Tia [Carter] and [sophomore] Raegan [Carper], helped me a lot with the cheers. This is my first time doing cheer, so they helped me a lot, but all of the girls made it enjoyable.

Q: What were some of the highlights of winter cheer?

Wilson: It’s definitely raised my confidence a lot. My favorite thing about [participating in cheer] was meeting the other girls.

Carper: The best part about [winter cheer] is just interacting with the team and being on the sidelines again because it’s been months since we’ve had a game where I could cheer. But it’s fun now; basketball season is more fun because we have a lot of new girls on the team who didn’t know much about cheer and me, my teammates, and coach can inspire them.

Sophomore Nicole Smith: The best part of the season was definitely actually going [to games] with the full crowd there, because last year we didn’t get to have any spectators. Meeting new people was probably [also] the best part [of this season]. This year we definitely have more people on the team itself and we get to interact with the crowds a lot more so that [made] it a lot more fun.

Sophomore Nicole Smith performs a cheer, encouraging the varsity boys team during the Jan. 24 basketball game against Tuscarora. (Taken by Amelia Chen)