by Maria Siragusa
15 February 2018
The 2017-2018 OE cheer team before cheering on the boys basketball team. “Just being on a team you learn a lot– not just about being on a team– but also about individualism and how other people work,” Lily Baur said. Photo courtesy of Katie Finin.
A long day of cheering, shouting, and performing came to an end on Saturday, January 27th, for the Oswego East cheer team.
No longer did the giant open area of Limestone High School in Bartonville, IL, echo with the sounds of cheerleaders putting their hearts and souls into routines for a spot in the State competition. The team sits shoulder to shoulder, waiting anxiously to see what place their routine has earned them. Hundreds of other girls in high ponytails, matching uniforms, and perfected makeup are filled with the same restless anticipation as they are. If East places in the Top Five, the girls would be going to state for the first time in the school’s history.
One by one, teams are eliminated out of the running for state, as a loud voice booms over a microphone calling out team names and places. Yet Oswego East remains hopeful, as they had performed a clean routine that they had been perfecting all season.
Finally, 6th place is called, and all of the anticipation that had been building up within them is released in a wave of shouting, laughing, and crying. They had made it. They were now the first cheer team in Oswego East’s history to make it to state.
This accomplishment did not come easy. Senior captain and base Lily Baur explained that the girls started practicing early in the summer– not too long after the previous cheer season ended.
“We drill the routine over and over again that we’ve had since summer. It’s a lot of repetition, and at times it gets stressful,” Baur said. “We’ve had a lot of dips throughout the season of really low practices, but then we bring them up. It really is like a roller coaster.”
According to junior backspot Meghan Stock, the rest of the team was motivated to work hard right after coming in sixth at sectionals last year and missing state by a hair.
“The whole drive this year was Top Five at sectionals. [After] the practice right after sectionals last year, people already had new skills. All of the team’s motivation was going toward this goal,” Stock said.
Over the course of the season, the girls faced many setbacks that caused them to change quickly and make do with some of the unfortunate situations they were put in.
“The sport is truly such a team effort. You literally rely on others to hold you in the air. Throughout the entire season, I know that it’s not just about me. It’s about every single one of my teammates on that mat.”
— Katie Finin
Fifth-year varsity coach Tiffany Scholle said that the team was “riddled with injuries and unforeseen problems” throughout the season, causing the team to make constant changes to the routine and switch around various girls’ positions in the routine.
“We actually performed a slightly different routine at every competition until we got to sectionals,” Scholle said.
But she was constantly impressed by the team’s ability to adapt to new problems and situations that they were faced with.
“It really showed the strength, poise, and versatility of the athletes on the team, that regardless of what was going on they were always able to pull it together, put on a good routine, and continue pushing on towards that overall goal,” Scholle said.
State prelims were hosted at Illinois State University on February 2nd. The girls did not perform as well as they had hoped, so they had not made it to finals. But that didn’t stop them from enjoying the close bond and team experiences that they shared together that season.
“The week before state was when I realized how close of a team we actually were. It was an amazing feeling to be so confident in yourself and your team, that you didn’t even have to worry about the upcoming competition and could just have fun together,” senior base Katie Finin said.
According to sophomore flyer Ellie Behnke, they had not lost many of their team members from last year, so having essentially the same team to work with was something that really made the season enjoyable.
“Being able to work so hard for one common goal was such a good experience and it was truly unforgettable. Also, hearing our name called at sectionals was something that I will never forget. It was definitely a highlight of the season,” Behnke said.
Scholle said that she was extremely proud of how far the team had come. She stressed to them the importance of giving your best even when things don’t go your way, because you can’t control everything. This was a prevalent lesson for them at state.
“One thing that I talk to all of my teams about is that that performance is by and large out of your control. They did everything in their control to prepare for it, and that moment happened and the greatest thing that they did was as it happened they recovered and then they moved on and did the rest of the routine as if they hadn’t made a mistake,” Scholle said. “So while that was not something we wanted, they certainly finished the rest of the routine with poise and performance value and were able to salvage as much as they could out of it and that was something that I valued greatly as a coach.”
Looking back on her season and cheer in general, Finin was reminded of the importance of trusting in your teammates and how the bond a team has is essential to success.
“The sport is truly such a team effort. You literally rely on others to hold you in the air. Throughout the entire season, I know that it’s not just about me. It’s about every single one of my teammates on that mat,” Finin said.
According to Behnke, she is thankful to have two more years to cheer for East. There is much that she hopes to accomplish in the years to come.
“I am looking forward to being able to build on to the legacy that we have already created and hopefully have even more success. Now that we have made it for the first year and broke down the barrier, I feel it will only get easier to make it. Hopefully we will make it next year. But we still have to work just as hard if not harder to reach our goals,” Behnke said.
Getting to state this year was only the beginning of what the team hopes to accomplish in years to come. Stock is confident that the team will continue to do great things in the future.
“I feel since we know what it takes to get to state now we’ll be able to teach the new girls and just keep rolling,” Stock said. I’m looking forward to seeing what the team can do next season and how much further we will be able to go.”
Maria Siragusa is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online new magazine the HOWL