The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Cheer flips into their fall season

WJ+Cheer+stunts+for+the+student+section+on+Sept.+1+versus+the+BCC+Barons.+They+made+sure+to+excite+the+fans+for+this+big+rivalry+game.
Photo courtesy Ana Lorenzo
WJ Cheer stunts for the student section on Sept. 1 versus the BCC Barons. They made sure to excite the fans for this big rivalry game.

After making it to regionals last year, WJ Cheer prepares for their competition season with head coach Vanessa Barnes. Even with the loss of 10 valuable seniors, the team has high hopes to make it to states as they are working hard to have a thrilling season.

As cheer gets ready for their upcoming competitions, they continue to sideline cheer for football under the Thursday and Friday night lights and on Saturday mornings. The team is working on making sure they perfect their team cohesiveness, technique and stunts.

Starting at the beginning of the fall season, Barnes introduced similar coaching techniques as previous years, which has set the team up for success.

“It was a pretty seamless transition because her coaching style didn’t really change. I just got used to more feedback on competition and technique,” senior Alexis Degala said.

The team considers Barnes to be very supportive in everything they do and she pushes them to their greatest potential, even more than the cheerleaders think they can do.

“[Barnes] believes in our abilities a lot, so most of the time she teaches us what we need to do, then we try it over multiple reps and she gives us feedback. She knows repetition is super important for stunting and tumbling, so she pushes us to hit every sequence 5-7 times consecutively to make sure we’re confident when we get onto the mat,” Degala said.

Barnes also believes that a positive attitude and an encouraging atmosphere are key components to being successful as a team.

“Coach Vanessa is a very detail oriented coach and she ensures that everyone on the team is performing at the highest level and makes sure we bring enthusiasm to competitions,” junior Candice Nsoga-Mahob said.

To prepare for their upcoming competition called “Invitationals” on Wednesday, Oct. 11, the team has been prioritizing consistency and practice. Invitationals is where teams can see how they score in an official setting and it’s viewed as practice with a ranking. In an effort to make sure their stunts are safe for a competition setting, the team also has a “safety check” where they perform stunts in front of a professional.

“We’ve been doing a lot of marking and self practice for our motions and counts, but during practice we go through the whole routine or certain sections multiple times,” Degala said.

They do this to clean up mistakes and to drill routines into their minds, in hope of it becoming muscle memory. Having all the routines memorized is a key component in cheerleading because when you’re put under immense stress during competitions it becomes much more difficult than when stunting in practice.

“I constantly remind the girls how far they have come. We have a team full of athletes that have never competed on a cheer mat before … I like to reflect on both the positives along with the negatives so they know what to work on … it’s helped them become stronger and better athletes,” Barnes said.

Barnes has multiple goals that she wants to accomplish by the end of the season and at their first real competition called “Counties.”

“This season my goal for the team is to hit their routine and to fight for each part, so that when they walk off of the mat they know they have done their best,” Barnes said.

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Lily Tapparo, Senior Sports Editor
Senior Lily Tapparo is excited to participate in her first year with the Pitch as a Senior Sports Editor. In addition to writing for the Pitch, Lily plays soccer, is an officer for Best Buddies, and enjoys hanging with her friends.
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