By Anessa Conner
Every day at 3:05 Savanah Jarvis, a BHS junior, and Kami Chadwick, BHS freshman, rush to South Burlington High School (SBHS) for their 3:45 cheerleading practice. Their hair is already up in a tight ponytail with a bright blue bow. Jarvis and Chadwick are the first cheerleaders at BHS in 14 years.
Last spring when BHS and SBHS announced the merger of their football teams, the SBHS cheer team invited BHS students to join. There was a tryout held in August but no cuts were made.
The Seawolf cheerleaders practice from August to May. They cheer at varsity football games in the fall and boys and girls varsity basketball games in the winter and spring. The team also competes in cheerleading competitions around the state.
Fall is still the busiest and most intense time of the year.
“We call this the conditioning.” Ashley Evans, a junior at SBHS said, “It’s when we do all our workouts and are the most active.”
BHS cheerleading ended in 2004.
“It was wonderful camaraderie,” Carrie Tewksbury, a paraeducator at BHS said.
Tewksbury was a member of the Seahorse cheer team from 1988 – 1992.
“It was nice because it was a wonderful combination of girls from all walks of the high school. All sizes, shapes and abilities and people who might not have come together as friends became friends through their love of what was really considered a sport.”
This sentiment seems to have carried over to the present generation.
“I’m so grateful for all the friendships I have made from the team,” Evans said. “I’ve also learned how to do some pretty amazing things with my teammates.”
One stunt she’s learned is called a prep, where the lightest person, called a flyer, stands on the hands of the cheerleaders helping to support the flyer, called bases. They lift the flyer up to chin height. Another impressive stunt Evans has learned is an extension, where the Flyers are extended up to arm’s length while the bases hold their ankles.
There have always been girls that are not students at SBHS on the SBHS cheer team. Mostly, they are students from smaller high schools that do not have a cheerleading team. Although these girls are a part of the team, they don’t get the opportunity to participate in the way that girls from SBHS do.
“We know that it is kind of hard for them because we all go to the one school,” Evans said. “We will do dress ups at our school and it will be all of us, but they go to a school where they are the only ones.”
Next year, BHS hopes to have more Seawolf cheerleaders in the halls of BHS.
“If there were more of us that went to Burlington, we would be more involved [with the team],” Chadwick said.
BHS fans are still adjusting to the addition of the cheer squad to their sports games.
BHS sophomore Katuma Bulle said that most students are not aware there are BHS students on the team. She also noticed at the homecoming football game that the cheerleaders performed randomly.
“They should have a time slot to perform like the [BHS] dance team,” BHS sophomore Wyatt Harte said.
The BHS dance team serves a similar role as the new cheerleading team; they perform at school events to stimulate school spirit. However, unlike the Seawolves cheer team, the BHS dance team is not funded by the school, nor is it considered a sport.
“The fact that that the cheerleaders get so much money from the school and get uniforms and white shoes and that the dance team gets no funding seems really unfair.” Linden Bronz-Russo, a BHS sophomore, said.
At the BHS homecoming, the dance team performed at halftime and received a wild and warm reaction from the crowd. The cheerleaders reception was lukewarm.
Medine Nifasha, BHS senior and captain of the dance team, says there’s a reason for the crowd’s reactions.
“Dance is what gets the younger generation hyped,” she said. “Dance is taking over nowadays. It is viral and the younger generation loves it, whereas cheerleading is not anything new to students.”
The Seawolves football players are excited for their first season with cheerleaders.
“It is nice to have some extra cheering on the sidelines to motivate us as a team,” Sam Smith, an SBHS sophomore on the Seawolves football team said. “It makes me feel like I am on a traditional football team.”
The new cheer squad looks forward to a year of working together and developing as team. But it is clear that this new spark of spirit extends beyond the squad.
“It’s a change for everyone, not just us,” Chadwick said. “It is a change for the whole community within SBHS and BHS.”
The Seawolves cheerleaders perform next at the SBHS/BHS vs. CVU football game, at CVU on September 29 at 1pm.