By Jackie Nelson
Eleven teenage girls have been meeting in a vacant lot on the northeast side of Hesston to prepare for the fall sports season. The Swather Cheer Squad, selected by departing coach Stephanie Wray in late March, have been without a coach since Wray will not be returning and instead will be caring for her newborn infant.
Without a coach, the cheer squad has rallied around not only their love of the activity, but also out of need to prepare for the upcoming football season - learning cheers, selecting and mixing music, coordinating choreography, teaching dances, learning stunting techniques, ordering uniforms, shoes, pom-poms and bows.
Junior Paige Kauffman added, in spite of not having a coach, the team has rallied to prepare for football season - which begins in just 42 days.
“We have different performances. It isn’t just the same things over and over. We have over 200 cheers and dances we learn,” said Kauffman.
With six new squad members, practices - both as a group and individuals taking time to rehearse and memorize cheers and steps - are critical for success come August.
“We have to learn dances, chants, cheers, it’s the basics when you have a bunch of new girls,” said junior Brityne Rucker.
While a coach has yet to be hired to lead the squad, the girls have taken matters into their own hands.
“I think we’re all excited about this year. We have six new girls. it is so much different. In some ways it is better because we are doing things for ourselves,” said Kauffman.
As one of the new girls, senior Taylor Valdez said despite the unusual circumstances, she has enjoyed cheer.
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