The importance of trust: injuries an risk and reality of life as a cheerleader October 1, 2023 — by Grace Lin & Christina Labban Courtesy of Marie KerlauThe cheer team enthusiastically cheers for our football team. Trust issues in the cheerleading squad could bring dispirit to the team. At the Homecoming football game on Sept. 22, several cheerleaders — senior Eva Semin, junior Analise Shab and freshmen Dezi Lencioni — hoisted junior captain Lucie Le Toquin into the air during a spirited routine. Le Toquin shook her red and blue pom-poms as she cheered on the football team. The spectacle showcased the harmony among the team members, a testament to the trust they’ve cultivated over hours of practice. This trust and companionship among teammates is a crucial factor in the success of the team’s routines and safety. For the school’s cheerleading team, trust is not just a buzzword; it’s a lifeline that keeps them from experiencing painful injuries. “I used to be scared of getting lifted into the air, but now I enjoy it because of my teammates’ support,” Le Toquin said. A fumbled catch or a miscommunication during a stunt can result in falls and mishaps that not only mar performances but also put athletes at risk. For example, returning sophomore cheerleader Lizzie Lockhart remembers how she got hurt after a lift attempt when practicing a stunt with her team. The team was learning a new stunt for the Homecoming game, and when Lockhart was preparing to load into her jump in, her teammate prepped too high. Lockhart fell when her teammate lifted her up, causing her to injure her lower back and hip. To avoid injuries, the cheerleading squad also tries to instill the importance of trust and communication to their six new members. While some of these newcomers already have experience in gymnastics, cheerleading requires them to learn new skill sets. The team, led by captain Kylee O’brie and Le Toquin and coached by Brandy Fisher, have been quick to express their enthusiasm for the new additions. For the freshmen, like freshmen Sia Chowdhri, joining a team of experienced cheerleaders initially felt intimidating. However, over time, they’ve been embraced as a part of the cheerleading family, receiving guidance and support. “I’m always excited for feedback so I can learn and grow more,” Chowdhri said. O’Brien has also helped Chowdhri learn by critiquing stunt skills and fundamentals, as well as helping her develop more flexibility. Since then, Chowdhri has developed more confidence on the field. To foster a culture of trust and unity, this year’s squad has made team bonding a top priority. They’ve organized pool parties and outings at Top Golf to strengthen their connection beyond the practice field. Organizing events together has helped foster a more relaxed environment and create deeper team bonds. Coach Fisher encourages the squad to work better together and trust each other. With a balanced approach of discipline and support, the new coach is behind the team’s positive outlook to tackle the next game. “With our new coach, we are a more cohesive team,” Lockhart said. “As a team, we are working together to continue building trust and communication skills with each other. We’re all hopeful for the rest of the season.” Tags: cheerleaders, Homecoming 2 views this weekAbout the contributorsGrace Lin & Christina LabbanGrace Lin, Class of '26, is a reporter and layout artist. She enjoys covering stories on news and sports stories. Outside of journalism, Grace likes to spend her time playing volleyball, guitar, and oil painting.