Pom, cheer back to practice


Saydria Ostler

Senior cheerleader Skylen Kerbs works on hitting stunts without any balance checks during the first hour cheer-locker. Skylen has been a part of Perry cheer for four years, with three of those years on varsity.

Last year, pom and cheer were able to continue on practicing as long as they wore masks and followed certain COVID precautions. They were still allowed on the sidelines of football and basketball games and were able to attend competitions throughout the year, but were lacking one major aspect: the audience. 

“As of right now we will be allowed to have an audience at games and competitions,” said senior cheerleader Skylen Kerbs, “but if we go back to mask requirements we will probably have to go back to no crowds.”

For pom and cheer, the audience’s energy plays a big part in the team’s performance. Their performances are very high energy, so when they do not have an audience to bounce off of, they have to work harder to make sure the judges can feel energy from them. 

“It was not anything I was used to for sure,” said senior pom dancer Maya Miller, “normally the audience is pushing you to keep going through, and the support system just was not there.”

After last year’s state competition where pom placed 3rd in jazz and 7th in varsity pom, the team has spent a lot of time pin-pointing what exactly they are doing that is docking them so many points. They did great at the Universal Cheer/Dance Association (UCA/UDA) Nationals, the competition which followed state, every competition before that, but their score and placement at state was unusually low compared to the others.

“We felt like our routine was really good,” pom coach Tenneal Howard said, “so it was disappointing seeing how we placed…we are definitely using what we learned and implementing it throughout routines this year.”

In past years, the teams would travel to California for Nationals which would take place at Disneyland. Last season, however, the teams decided to attend the Nationals on the east coast in Florida at the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) Wide World of Sports complex. Pom placed 8th out of 19 in jsmall varsity azz and 4th out of 21 in small varsity pom. Cheer placed 10th out of 16 in small varsity and 4th out of 5 in medium gameday. 

“Nationals in the east is definitely a different ball game,” said Kerbs, “after Nationals we stepped up our game to perform and practice skills that are much more advanced.”

Last year, cheer participated in two virtual competitions and attended the other three in-person alongside pom. Though the district has not officially told the teams how they will be competing this year, virtual or in-person, both plan to attend any and all competitions in-person this year. The first competition for the teams will be in November and they start back on the sidelines at the first football game on Sep 3.