Sideline cheerleaders already pepped up for football season at Lake Forest High School

The lazy days of summer were not so lazy for Lake Forest High School’s varsity sideline cheerleaders who practiced for weeks and attended overnight skills camps to learn how to better direct distracted fans to focus on the action on the field this fall.

“Every year it helps so much,” senior Victoria Glass, 17, of Lake Forest said about the cheerleading skills camps she and other squad members attended.

A cheerleader since her freshman year, Victoria sees a noticeable progression every year with the overnight skills camps and at-home practices.

“Cheerleading is very serious for us,” Victoria said. “We’re working hard to make a name for ourselves.”

The camps — one in Lake Geneva, where the girls brought home a first-place honor — help take the squad’s skills to the next level.

“The camps are a huge deal because that’s where we learn all the routines” for Homecoming and quarter- and half-time performances, senior Kennedy Best, 17, said.

She suggests fans watch for the “really cool pyramid” the squad learned this summer.

Though the heart-stopping pyramid, drops and stunts look scary, apparently they’re not.

“You get over your fears and you have a lot of trust in the girls, so it’s fine,” senior Emily Rule, 17, said.

Emily fills all three positions on the sidelines squad: flyer, the person at the top of a lift; base, the girls who hold each flyer upright and catch her when she exits a lift; and back spot, squad members who provide additional “spotting” for the flyer.

Emily trusts her squad-mates and admits she likes her role as flyer best.

“This entire sport is about trust and trusting who’s under you,” Emily said. “We’re like a family. I know every single time I’m coming down, someone’s going to catch me.”

No position is more important or difficult than the others, she said.

The base members create the structure for the lifts and pyramids, but anything can go wrong at any level.

“If a flyer messes up — if they roll their ankle in a stunt — it’s the base’s job to turn the ankle,” she said. “We all have to have a good sense of what’s going on.”

Cheerleading has “come a long way in gaining recognition, but there’s still a long way to go,” coach Jaclyn Cardenas said.

Cardenas emphasizes discipline, focus and safety.

“Focus on your counts, focus on the techniques that we learned,” she told the girls at their final summer practice July 23. “We’re not going to hit it if we don’t have the right technique. “

The cheerleaders will be on the sidelines this fall “throwing some new stunts and new cheers, performing more and just doing our best,” Victoria said.

But leading crowd spirit is the most important sideline cheerleading function.

“That’s our main goal,” Kennedy said. “It’s not to have the coolest stunts or the coolest tumbling. It’s to pump up the crowd. That’s what we’re there for.”

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