Liv Lik Lil: an insight into HHS cheerleading


Sara Price

The Highlands High School cheer team competes at Scott High School in the “LivLikLil” competition, performing using flags and popular moves, such as the hurkey.

     Many middle and high schoolers struggle with finding a hobby, sport, or activity they can get into and stay with. Teenagers tend to be indecisive and it is no different when it comes to interest. 

    A popular sport a lot of young girls and boys choose to dedicate themselves to is cheer. Cheering varies from calling out words of encouragement to intense physical activity. It can be performed to motivate sports teams, to entertain an audience, or in a competitive manner. Cheerleading routines typically range anywhere from one to three minutes and contain components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting.

     According to Senior Sydney Shewater, cheer wasn’t the first sport she decided to dedicate herself to. 

     “When I was four I loved to dance, I was on the dance team and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. As I got older I wanted to try different things, so in second grade when I had the opportunity to start Fort Thomas Junior Cheer, some of my closest friends [joined], so I joined them and fell in love with it.” 

     The cheerleaders are all very close with each other, as they spend copious amounts of time together during practices, workouts, competitions, games, etc. 

     The school has a personal trainer that they lend to all of the teams, Aaron Letinski. The workouts are pretty consistent for all of the teams unless the coach has a certain routine they prefer. Lesinski is there to assist and make sure the athletes are working their muscles correctly and help them build their form. The workout includes lifting weights, running/sprinting/jogging, long jumps, and anything else he thinks that could further benefit the athletes and their sport. On top of this, each team has its scheduled practices. 

     The cheer season begins with tryouts in early summer, and in July the season begins, going through March. Highlands High School Cheer requires their cheerleaders to practice at least four hours a week in the workout room, plus the three-hour football/basketball games on Saturday, finally any additional scheduled practices usually last two hours. The HHS cheerleaders spend 5 hours minimum and there will most likely be additional practices. 

     Select members on the team are so dedicated to cheering that they join a variety of different competitive teams. A team that has had many highlands athletes join is Premier Athletics. Seniors Sarah Holder, Shewalter, and Sophomores Sophia Underhill and Rachel Beckmeyer are all members of “Midnight”. There are a lot of other girls participating on separate teams that are also time demanding, club teams usually demand 4 hours of practice a week. This means the girls on two or more teams can be spending 11+ hours a week cheering, along with balancing a social and academic life. 

     Now that some of the cheerleaders have had their final season, they are really able to talk about what cheer did for them individually. 

     Many people don’t recognize cheer as a sport, but not only is it a sport but little do they know that also takes the teenagers’ personalities and shapes them into amazing people. Through the Highlands program, these cheerleaders become portraits of a graduate. They are able to go into detail about how it made them who they are as a person. 

     According to Shewalter, the high school cheer program helped her experience many things. 

     “It let me experience a lot of emotional and physical altercations, obviously losing Liliana was one of the things that have inspired me to continue on every day and push to my fullest potential. Also an accident I had, breaking my finger, taught me a lesson, that if you’re not experienced or aren’t sure exactly what you’re doing, you will get hurt. In my case, it was just a situation where I was new to the position. It honestly brought me a lot of joy as well as sadness but it’s worth every second.”