Just as there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work and action for a hard-hitting football team, so too does more go into the symmetry and smiles of the 16 young women cheering on the crowd at Winnfield Senior High School football games.
Just ask Lindsey Griffin, now in her 17th year at WSHS who has served as the cheerleading sponsor from 2007 to 2011, coming back in 2016 and serving there since. In her “day job,” if you will, she began as an English teacher before moving on to become business teacher, her college major.
“I don’t think people around the school or community realize what cheerleading entails,” she said. “Certainly they see them at the games on Friday nights but to perform that well, they’ve practiced summers and throughout the year. They decorate the school and plan pep rallies. They are in charge of school spirit. They make the in-hall signs and football tags. Their biggest week is Homecoming.”
The perception, she suggests, is that the girls are not athletes. But they are just that. “They have to be strong enough, both physically and mentally, to lift, support and toss other cheerleaders as part of their routines. To work as hard as they do throughout a game requires endurance.”
“We practice a lot,” explained team captain Madison Nelson. “We’re here to practice cheers from 8 to noon on Mondays when there are no classes. We’re also together for 7th hour. We work to meet expectations, from Ms. Lindsey, from the school and there’s a handbook we follow.”
“Often our cheerleaders may not realize the role models that they are to little girls. We had a cheer camp earlier in the season and 107 attended. Then at games, you can see the little ones down front, looking through the rail at our performers. They hope they’ll become cheerleaders.”
Football season has finished but the lives of cheerleaders goes on as basketball arrives.