After nearly five grueling months of hard work and immense effort by Hanover High School’s cheerleading team, the cheerleaders were rewarded with the Division Champs title for their 2014 competition season! But it was not an easy feat to accomplish…
Leading up to their first competition on November 1st, the cheerleaders worked diligently on perfecting their skills and routine. Running a routine full-out is not something to take lightly; after nearly two minutes of vigorously clenching your muscles, forcefully yelling a cheer, running and tumbling across the mat, tossing girls your own age into the air, all while maintaining a megawatt smile, it truly takes a toll on you. Especially when you have to run that routine over and over and over until your bones are aching, your throat is sore, and your muscles are numb. But after a tough week of intense practices, the team arrived at their inaugural competition feeling confident and prepared.
The team’s first competition was an invitational held at Braintree High School, where Hanover competed against numerous teams, some composed of intimidating girls nearly twice their side. “It was definitely a nerve-wracking experience,” said Junior Charlotte Calkin. “Seeing those other girls definitely took a toll on our confidence.” But despite any lingering fears and insecurities, Hanover took the mat with large and unwavering smiles plastered on their faces, and hands clenched tightly at their sides. The girls performed the routine perfectly, until about three quarters of the way through the music section. Suddenly, their song cut out, and all 15 girls stood shocked in place, wondering what could’ve gone wrong. But in an incredible example of team work and perseverance, the team began to count out their music for the last few remaining eight counts, leading the audience in a thrilling chant that was punctuated with an eruption of praise and applause when the routine had finished. So even though the team suffered quite the mishap on the mat, they were able to power through and finish their routine without the music keeping them in line. Judges most definitely took this into account, and when the time for awards came around, Hanover was awarded first place in its division, making for a very happy HHS team.
After returning from their invitational with a large pink trophy held high above their heads, the girls knew that in order to keep their place on top, they would need to work extra hard to keep up with the other teams, who would certainly be raising the stakes of their own routines in order to compete with Hanover’s talent. But after another week of rough, dragging practices that nearly wore holes in the girls’ shoes, they felt prepared for their second competition, this time where the league title would be at stake.
November 8th brought nervous smiles and shaky knees as the team filed into Whitman-Hanson Regional High School. This was the moment they had been dreading since beginning captains’ practices in July- this was the moment that their hard work had been leading up to. Their performance time snuck up on them, and before they knew it they were huddling together on the edge of the mat preparing to begin. The girls took their last few seconds to give each other parting advisory remarks: “stay clean!” “Don’t forget to smile!” “Be loud!” And before they knew it, the DJ was announcing, “HANOVER HIGH SCHOOL, YOU MAY TAKE THE MAT.” And their routine began. After making it through without any music mishaps, the girls ran off the mat exhausted, yet invigorated with adrenaline.
Flash forward to the award ceremony — the girls were nervous, for though they had performed to their highest capacity, the judges at the league competition were known to be harsher than those at the invitational. And perhaps giving their all wouldn’t be quite enough in this scenario. The DJ stepped up to the microphone and began to announce the winning teams from each division, and when Division 4 was called, every Hanover cheerleader clutched each others’ hands with white knuckles and squeezed their eyes shut in anticipation. And in a frenzy of excited shouts and screams of joy, Hanover High School proudly took home the title of not only Division 4 champion, but of second place in the entire league, something that they have been working toward for years. The entire team was grateful for how far they came in their competition season, and their numerous awards prove how dedicated they were. They were rewarded not only with trophies and plaques, but with the support and respect of their fellow students, which is all they could ever ask for.
When asked about the hard work put in by the cheerleaders, Senior captain Skye Howard said, “this season has been one of the best for HHS cheer thanks to everyone on the team, from coming to 6 am practices, staying after school until the sun is completely gone, and coming even when they’re sick.” And all of the present seniors have expressed similar regards to their beloved teammates, mourning the end of the season and promising to return next year with new ideas for future routines. Skye said, “This has been one of the hardest seasons we’ve ever had and without the dedication of each and every cheerleader, we wouldn’t have made it as far as we did.”
“Our season may be over,” says sophomore Nicole Cirafice, “But we are definitely still a team. And I don’t think that’s something that will go away”.