Cheerleaders start summer learning new routines
While most students settle into fun summer routines, Lansing Middle School cheer squad members set aside some time to master a few routines of their own.
Inside Katie's Dance Studio, the girls of the LMS cheer squad have the first meeting of the 2006-2007 school year, but it's no normal practice - and not just because it's during the summer. From June 5-8 they meet every day for almost four hours, in an intensive summer camp that marks the first group activity for the year.
This is the second year of the camp for squad captains Lauren Counts and Heather Cook, both 13, who admit the camp is formative.
"This is really the first time we do anything as a squad," Counts said. "We learn lots about being a team."
And for Counts and Cook, they're learning about being captains.
While the LMS cheerleaders join those from Leavenworth's Warren Middle School to work on cheerleading and dance routines at the camp, it's the first time the captains see the group dynamic. And it's not always easy to lead the squad, when emotions and rivalries sometimes get the best of people. But as captains, the two are up to the challenge.
"Sometimes they can be a handful," Cook said. "But that's mostly just when we're doing bad."
And that doesn't happen too often, according to Jofee Tremain, LMS cheer coach and teacher of eighth-grade social studies and literature. Tremain does her best to prepare the squad for the challenges it faces both while cheering and while practicing. It wouldn't be cheerleading without a little bit of soap opera, she said.
"For some reason when you think about cheerleading, you think about drama," Tremain said.
But one of Tremain's main goals of the camp is team building and conditioning the squad to be "able to see through the drama."
Most of the squad can relate to struggling through memorizing the many routines, a bonding experience for some.
Camp is the crucial time for committing the steps to memory - and Tremain sets the bar high.
"They're learning enough to cover two pep rallies - maybe three," she said.
The LMS squad cheered at 15 games by Tremain's count in the past year, on top of organizing two pep rallies and a school dance. It's a lot of work for a squad that doesn't have regular practice times, which is why the summertime is so important for them.
Due to the number of games for which the squad cheers and because Tremain insists that school comes before squad, the cheerleaders practice in the hours between games at LMS, instead of the after-school or early-morning hours when many activities meet. Tremain's plan saves time for parents - and academics.
"To me studies are more important," Tremain said. "This is extracurricular."
Tremain also believes that through success in cheerleading, the girls on her squad will develop their skills in making time for what's important.
The captains, at least, are up to the challenge. For both Cook and Counts, the time put in over the summer and at camp is more fun than work.
"I wouldn't really change anything," Cook said. "We have two great teachers."
Counts shares her comrade's enthusiasm - but has one exception.
"I'd make the days longer," she said. "It's really fun."
¢ For photos from the camp, go to lansingcurrent.com