Cheer alumna returns to coach, will allow team to compete

September 19, 2019 — by Jeanette Zhou and Joann Zhang

“G! O! Go, Falcons, go! G! O! Go, Falcons go!” the cheer team shouted, punctuating each word with a sharp clap. As they practiced in the dance room, new coach Chelsea Miller wove between the formation of girls, correcting the way the girls were pronouncing their “O”s. 

“I don’t want to hear any of this—” she pronounced the “O!” in a drawing, sing-songy tone. The team laughed and started over, with a new emphasis on their “O”s.

A 2013 Saratoga alumna Miller, nicknamed “Coach Chels,” took over leadership of the cheer team this summer after previous coach Monica Davis’ departure. With eight years of experience from cheering in high school and dancing in college, Miller  has been a hit with the girls and a contrast to their experience last year. This year, they say they’re enjoying improved organization and a caring atmosphere.

Currently, the cheer team has around 12 members, compared to 24 last year — a dip in participation some members of the team attributed to frustration with last year’s experience.

In addition, for the first time in six years, Miller will be taking the team to cheer competitions. The cheer team stopped competing in 2013, but this year, Miller hopes to take the team all the way to USA Spirit Nationals in Disneyland. 

“I’m definitely looking forward to competition this year,” cheer captain senior Monica Lubyanitsky said. “We really want to go [to Disneyland] and we just want to place.”

Because the cheer team this year is smaller than in past years, one of the team’s main goals is to develop close-knit relationships. 

       “I’m really excited because it is a smaller group which means we can reform the team how we want, so that means that we are taking a different approach,” Miller said. 

Miller has reached out to the dance and football teams and set up bonding activities such as secret gift-giving systems to improve the team’s connection with other prominent athletic groups on campus. 

Additionally, in order to better establish close-knit relationships within the team, members have started to participate in more frequent bonding activities, Lubyanitsky said. Positive chemistry outside of the team is reflected during performances, so the cheer team sees this as a constructive change. 

“We want to get along, so we have team bonding every month now, such as dinner at someone’s house or at a restaurant,” Lubyanitsky said. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link. You can’t make the team improve until everyone improves.”