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A Day in the Life of a Cheerleader: Centerstage at a Cavs Game

The Gilmour Academy Varsity Cheerleaders’ number one rule is to never stop smiling.
As a two-year member of the cheer squad, I can testify to the memories, effort, and long, tedious hours of work the team puts into each and every game. For Jocelyn Boduszek (’13), a four-year varsity cheerleader for both football and basketball and four-year assistant cheer coach for the squad, cheerleading is much more than just a sport or extracurricular, it’s a family.

When recalling the best memory of the season, Boduszek said, “Favorite memory has to be the game when we performed the Christmas dance [on December 12, 2017]. It was the first time I really saw all of the hard work come together, the first time everyone really showed up as a team. It was memorable to watch everyone finally click and perform as one.”

At the beginning of every season, Head Coach Chris Catanese always reminds the girls of  their main goal: a cheerleader doesn’t end when we walk off the court, but it’s a reputation you uphold the entire year. Grace DiPerro (’18) is a senior captain. She said, “It’s all about being there for the basketball players and for each other, spreading school spirit, and keeping everyone engaged in the game while rooting for the Lancers. Cheer has impacted my life in that I am more of an optimist when things don’t go my way. I emulate the values I learned when I am in a stressful situation. I try to focus on what I can control and just keep going.”

“Life is like a performance, you can’t stop smiling!”

As for the rest of the squad, they all agree that the cheerleaders don’t receive enough credit for the time and effort they put into the season. “We’re so underrated,” said Lily Switka (’18), co-captain and eight-season cheerleader. “We need more girls and support.”

A prime example of a time when the squad appreciated all the support they could receive was on January 22, 2018, the night the team cheered at a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game. Stephanie Leonor (’20) explained just how exciting the night was for the team. Leonor said, “Cheering at the Cavs game was exhilarating, and walking off that floor makes you feel like you’ve just accomplished the world; all the hard work and endless practices finally paid off.”

DiPierro is graduating this year. She said, “I will miss cheering with fourteen of my best friends on the Cavs floor! I really enjoyed dancing in front of all the people and smiling at the cameras, hoping for a chance to appear on the Jumbotron!”

According to the cheerleaders, cheering at the Cavs game still remains the absolute high of the season. DiPierro and Switka both noted how much the squad appreciated the applause of around 20,000 fans. During the regular high school season, the entire squad faces the universal challenge of overcoming stereotypes about cheerleading, the biggest being that cheerleaders are ditsy and air-headed. “If you look at all of us, it’s just not true, because of a lot of us are academic scholars!” DiPierro said.

Despite the trials and tribulations the squad encounters, it never puts a damper on their energy and smiles when it comes to show time. Leonor said, “The most important thing to remember is to always smile, even if you’re nervous or mess up, because chances are, if you keep smiling, no one will even notice!”

As the season comes to a close, the team has been in full-on recruitment mode. Currently, the squad has four seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, and three freshmen, but has the hope of growing the squad in time for August’s football cheer season.

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Kat Rankin ('20) is a sophomore at Gilmour Academy and lives in Moreland Hills, OH. After moving to Ohio in third grade, Kat attended St. Joan of Arc Catholic School. Kat has a passion for writing from a very young age, continuing it throughout high school by taking creative writing and joining TILT. She also participates in volleyball, cheerleading, and softball at the Academy. In her free time, Kat loves to read, skateboard, and take walks with her dog. As a new member of the Lance staff, Kat hopes to share some of her passions and positively impact her readers.