Making hard work look easy


Laura Veldhof

Varsity cheerleaders are some of the hardest workers at WO.

Sarai Garcia


Cheerleaders some of the most hard working people in the building. Fight me.

Although it may seem as though cheerleaders have it easy, people don’t know what happens outside of just football games. For instance, cheer practices are two and half to three hours long four days a week. There are two competitions each week that last at least two hours, not including travel time and warm up. Competitive Cheer exists, and it is a sport.

Do you know exactly what it takes to be a cheerleader?


The Weight Room

A typical week of a cheerleader consists of using the weight room twice a week. Now this may seem as a very little amount of time, but they make the most of their time in the weight room. Bench press, back squat, and deadlift are the most common workouts that the cheerleaders perform. About half of the team can squat 135 pounds, and others can squat more than that. Some can even bench press 100 pounds. They always work hard and finish as much of their work out as they can, which shows the amount of improvement they have made since day one.

Athlete Performance Coordinator Frank Lerchen said, “I can confidently say that the cheer program has been one of the hardest working teams in the weight room. The coaches have been in full support and set the expectations from day one. From there, the team’s punctuality and detail oriented approach have led them to be one of the fastest growing teams in the weight room.”

Even the cheerleaders have said that they have benefited from the use of the weight room. Sr. Ciara Phonsana said, “The weight room benefits me because I can tell it is making me a stronger cheerleader. The workouts provided have helped me improve in stunting, jumps, and tumbling.” The amount of time that cheerleaders spend in the weight room is not wasted, but used to its advantage.



Teamwork is one of the most important factors of cheerleading. Each athlete on the team plays an important role. Stunting reveals how the team can be dependent on each other. A stunt group is composed of four cheerleaders: the backspot, main base, side base, and flyer. If one person is gone from the stunt group, then the stunt group is unable to stunt. That stunt group will therefore fall behind the other stunt groups, displaying how crucial commitment is.

Jr. Lydia Tubbergensaid, “Commitment in cheer is very important. Cheer is a team sport so if people are missing at practice you aren’t able to do everything that needs to be done.” Grades affect a cheerleader’s participation during practices, games, and competitions. Cheerleaders must work hard to keep their grades up in school for the sake of participation because that is also a part of commitment. The loss of one competitor can cause a rippling effect.


Time Management

Due to the massive amount of practice and competition hours that cheerleaders put in weekly, managing their time for homework, work, and relaxation is essential. “Cheer is very time consuming. We have two and a half hour practices every day and sometimes we go over that time limit,” Tubbergen said. “I see my team six days a week, sometimes seven if we go to For the Kidz to practice tumbling on our own time,” Phonsana said. Imagine going to school at seven in the morning and leaving school at seven at night, every single week. That is what the cheerleaders of West Ottawa experience for more than half of the school year.

Even so, how do the cheerleaders have enough time for school work and cheer? “Since cheer is time consuming I tend to manage my time by creating this schedule after school. I get home at about 6:50 pm every night. Once I get home I eat dinner, shower, and do homework. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough time to relax,” Phonsana said. Many cheerleaders feel this way and it exhibits how skilled they are at managing their time.



Cheerleaders often face mental blocks and diminish themselves. Mental blocks are formed when an athlete is scared to do a certain skill after a traumatic event or injury. This can negatively affect their mental health because they may start to think that they can’t do a certain skill. Sr. Mariah Stewart said, “Cheerleaders are picked apart at every single practice. I had become obsessed with perfection and had lost sight of the love I had for this sport. I lacked confidence because of my habit of yearning for perfection.” Perfectionism can swallow a cheerleader’s confidence, spit it out, and leave them feeling hopeless.

A change of mentality can achieve infinite possibilities. “At practice instead of feeling belittled when I was faced with criticism I decided to use it as fuel to better myself as a cheerleader. I only allow myself to talk positively towards myself when it comes to cheer,” Stewart said.

It is possible to build confidence to overcome mental blocks. “You have to push yourself mentally and physically in cheer. Getting over mental blocks definitely gives me confidence in the skill that I am doing. It shows me that I am bigger than that skill,” Tubbergen said. Cheerleaders are able to overcome their fears and build self-esteem in order to continue the sport that they love.

Cheerleaders are often misunderstood and stereotyped as ditzy, peppy, and weakly. This makes them feel unappreciated because they are one of the most hard working, determined, and resilient people. They are diligent in the weight room and commit to their sport for more than half of the school year. They also develop extremely skilled time management skills due to their busy schedule. Lastly, they overcome mental blocks and accept their flaws to become the best version of themselves. Cheerleaders are most known for cheering on the football players during their games, but people don’t understand how hard they work outside of those games and after the football season. They are athletes, just as much as football players, wrestlers, runners, and dancers. Cheerleaders need to be recognized for their hard work and dedication.