What It Takes to Be: A Base Cheerleader

Eight Years of Dedication


Jack Densmore

Junior Claire Jenkins cheering on the football team as they enter the pep rally last Friday.


Spirit is what every school needs and what every cheerleader strives to increase in their school. Junior Claire Jenkins is no exception. Jenkins is at the base position of the cheerleading squad and has been a cheerleader since the 4th grade. She has also participated in outside cheer groups that perform in competitions.

“You just really have to be calm and just have fun with it,” junior Claire Jenkins said. “I don’t want to say you can’t take it too seriously, but you can’t let it get to you. You just have to have fun.”

Jenkins has been in cheer for eight years, mostly in competition cheer. She chose to do competition rather than middle school cheer. In her years of competitive cheerleading, she gained a lot of experience before entering high school cheer.

“If I wasn’t in competitive cheer I wouldn’t be anything really,” Jenkins said.  “So, that really helped shape the cheerleader that I am.”

Jenkins’ life in cheer has given her personal attributes that have helped her combat life’s challenges and will help her in the long run.

“It’s given me more accountability and responsibility and it’s helped me understand what it’s like to work with people and just have patience,” Jenkins said.

At the start of her cheerleading career Jenkins was a flyer, but later realized she was more suited to the base position.

“Usually when you come into cheer you have prior experience, but really the coaches test you out and see what you’re more comfortable with,” Jenkins said.

When Jenkins was first accepted onto the high school Varsity cheer team she felt ready, but her level of excitement didn’t stop there.

“Even though I felt the try out wasn’t challenging, I was just excited,” Jenkins said.

One of the main things cheerleaders are most known for is leading the crowd in cheers at football games. From their position on the track, it’s up to the cheerleaders to keep the flow of school spirit going and to get the crowd cheering for their team by doing a number of chants and stunts.

“Because you get to cheer on people and that’s always fun, because when you’re cheering at a football game you have someone to cheer on and you have someone to cheer for and that’s fun there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins’ first football game was no exception to the responsibility of a cheerleader. It was her chance to shine in a big event at the high school level in front of her friends in the student section and with the rest of her cheer team next to her.

“I wasn’t nervous, because there’s a lot of us, and also you kind of realize that most of the time the student section isn’t watching you. They’re watching the game,” Jenkins said. “I think that’s the main thing about cheerleading. You can’t take it too seriously. You practice hard, but you just have to have fun with it”.

Pep rallies are also a special event for cheerleaders as they are a part of the center stage performance that goes into pep rallies. The usual stage fright that most people would get has no effect on Jenkins.

“I like performing in front of people,” Jenkins said.

With every sport, some students have bad experiences. Luckily, Jenkins hasn’t had too much of a bad experience with cheer. Coaches watch out for their team, and cheer is no exception.

“I’ve been cheering for eight years and have never broken a bone or anything, so I haven’t had that kind of bad experience,” Jenkins said. “[Even though,] you just get very drained and overwhelmed, it’s still fun. Coach Carlisle knows our priorities like school comes first, then cheer and everything else, so she makes sure that it’s not too overwhelming for us. She’s a really good coach”.

Jenkins practices before, during, and after school. With practice, homework, class, and life in general, things can get overwhelming.

“It never effects my performance because we’re all pretty prepared,”Jenkins said. “Coach makes sure that we have enough time to practice, so we know what to do because there’s a lot of stuff you need to remember. That’s the only time it gets overwhelming; usually it’s just fun.”

Jenkins had originally been a volleyball player entering high school, but she still found she wanted to do cheerleading as she had been doing cheerleading outside of school. Jenkins knew after watching the cheerleaders at games that she wanted to join the team and be able to be apart of raising school spirit and performing at pep rallies and football games.

“When I was a freshman I was a volleyball player, but I’ve always been a cheerleader outside of school, so I’d always wanted to be a high school cheerleader when I was a volleyball player for some reason, and what inspired me was when I’d go up to games and see all of them like cheering,” Jenkins said. “It inspired me because I’d see all the people having so much fun, I mean volleyball was fun too but it was always something that I wanted to do and it just looked really fun”.