Vilseck High School cheerleading squad inspires next generation
December 7, 2011
VILSECK, Germany -- Cheerleaders aim to make their energy and enthusiasm infectious. While this is usually accomplished before a crowd at sporting events, cheerleaders at Vilseck High School recently spread their vim through less traditional means.
On Nov. 18 at the Vilseck High School Events Center, the cheer team hosted their first Kids Cheer Clinic. For three hours, the squad helped 20 girls, ages 3 to 9, learn to tumble, cartwheel, stomp and clap.
Along with teaching the fundamentals of pep, the cheer clinic also served as a fundraiser for the VHS Cheer Team's 2012 trip to the European Cheer Competition in Riccione, Italy. According to first year co-coach Megan Medsker, the team wanted to combine community outreach with raising money.
"We wanted not only do a fundraiser, but something outside the box," said Medsker. "To do something that was a little more than selling something."
The evening's atmosphere was spirited from the beginning. Any shyness the kids brought with them eased as they stood in a circle and introduced themselves. Encouraged by the cheer team, some attendees flaunted acrobatics they previously knew.
After introductions, the team divided their young students into two groups according to age. The smaller girls, some as young as 3, focused on basic tumbling and simple cheer moves.The older girls, ages 8 and 9, got down to business learning actual dances and cheers while performing impressive feats of tumbling. With generous help from the team, the girls took turns being launched into the air, flipped backwards and balanced one-footed on upturned palms.
Though the girls seriously tackled the cheers, the mood remained buoyant, thanks to the universal smiles and enthusiasm from the team. While drilling the intensely focused girls, the squad implored them to "remember to smile," and maintained that "practice makes perfect."
Many of the girls arrived with moves already in their arsenal and appeared very comfortable both on the floor and in the air. Nine-year-old Ansley Robbins spent three years in All-Star Cheer, where she practiced dance routines, stunts and jumps.
"It's easy for me to learn jumps and it's easy for me to learn routines because I have experience," explained Robbins.
For Aliyah Chambers, 9, the Kids Cheer Clinic was her third cheer event. While she admitted being scared while being thrown in the air, Chambers is drawn to the sport for its pep.
"I think cheer is a good sport because it pumps your energy," she said.
Chambers' take on cheerleading was seconded by Taylor Henry, a VHS cheerleader and the team's co-captain hopeful. According to Henry, cheering "is about having a positive attitude constantly. That's the most important job of a cheerleader, is to keep people's spirits up."
The idea for the Kids Cheer Clinic came from Vilseck High School cheer co-coach Emily Thomas. Thomas, who cheered in high school, remembered the "kiddie camp" her squad used to put on and thought it was a great idea for her VHS team's fundraiser. Thomas sees another Kids Cheer Clinic in the future, hopefully closer to Grafenwoehr to easily incorporate both communities.
"I'm glad we have these little girls come out and support our cheerleaders," said Thomas.
Through both the Child, Youth and School Services sport offerings, dance groups and now the Kids Cheer Clinic, cheerleading is becoming an increasingly popular sport for young people in the Grafenwoehr community. Henry said she hopes this early enjoyment of the sport carries into the teens and beyond.
"They're really enjoying themselves," said Henry watching the girls at the clinic. "That makes me happy. I hope they continue it when they're our age."