The cheerleaders have felt a change this year, with the first semester of school seeming like a wake-up call. Their crucial job of encouraging and supporting Baylor's athletic teams became a challenge with new regulations and guidelines to keep everyone healthy. Nevertheless, the girls held on and appreciated the time they shared with their teammates and the athletes they cheered on. The three team captains shared their perspectives and what they have gleaned from their experience with COVID-safe cheerleading.
Melanie Kral ‘21 shares that “it means the world to be able to keep cheering! We feel blessed in the fact that we are still able to compete virtually and at some in-person venues, allowing us to achieve our goals of championship titles that many other cheer teams across the country have not been able to reach. We have taken extreme precautions to keep moving forward."
She says that they were able to preserve the most critical parts of their practice with “the three championship titles and the bond my team has made. Even though Senior Night wasn't the same as in years past, walking out on the field that night is a moment I'll never forget. Competing is different, but winning Grand Championship at three competitions with my team was an extraordinary feeling. It was worth all of the hard work and late practices we put in. My team is like my family. This year, we are closer than ever before and have created a bond that has lasted all year.”
Sharma Jones ‘22 explained that basketball cheer allowed less flexibility compared to previous years. “This year we weren't able to have the full team on the court because we wouldn't be able to maintain six feet of distance, so we had a really cool rotating system: half of the team would cheer with Mari and me for one game, then the others would cheer with us the next.” Despite the many changes, she wanted to tell her team, “I am extremely proud of my girls for sticking together and holding the fort down. I'm proud to be a Baylor cheerleader!”
Mari Douglas ‘22, who’s been a cheerleader since sixth grade, reflected on the importance of small things, like making signs for players and putting them on their lockers, and how even those things have had to change at times. “I always enjoy cheering on the basketball teams— it brings me so much joy. Since our season has been suspended until further notice, it's challenging to hear about the basketball games and not be able to be there. My favorite part about cheering basketball has always been and always will be Baylor-McCallie. The energy in Duke Arena is always electric; the whole student body always comes out to support us, and I always feel immense pride in my school just to be a part of it. We always prepare an exciting dance for Baylor-McCallie.”
Even in a pandemic, the pride for Baylor School has been maintained by the cheer team's efforts and the continued support from the rest of the student body.