New kids on the pyramid

Bigger roster opens new opportunities for cheer team

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Meredith Grotevant

GETTING IN THE SPIRIT: On Saturday, Aug. 20, the cheer team gathered at the Domain Northside for a cheer-off against the Anderson cheer squad. Freshman Vivian Medina thought the cheer-off helped prepare her for cheering at the Taco Shack football game. “The cheer-off help me feel out what it would be like to cheer in front of a crowd,” she said. “It helped me overcome some of my nerves and got me excited [for] the game.” Despite narrowly losing the Domain cheer-off and the football game, Medina felt that this year’s Taco Shack was still a positive learning experience for the cheer team. “I was a little disappointed but I know there’s always next year. We know now what we can work on and what we can improve.” 

Francie Wilhelm, co-news, co-online managing editor

Under the bright stadium lights of the 2022 Taco Shack Bowl, the cheer team revved up the fans for the first football game of the school year. But Taco Shack wasn’t just the season opener. For half of the team and for new cheer coach Jace Klein, it was the very first time cheering on the McCallum sidelines.

Klein was approached last year about taking over the cheer team last school year after the previous coach decided to part ways from the program. Despite having no background with the sport, Klein agreed to come on as the new coach and team sponsor.

“I just wanted to be a little more involved,” Klein said. “I want to get to know students outside of an academic context.”

Klein wasn’t the only big change to the squad; nearly half of the roster are freshmen or new to the team.

It makes me feel like I’m a part of something and involved at our school. It’s nice that I can always have group of people I can rely on.”

— freshman Merrill Price

“It’s kind of awesome,” senior co-captain Gretchen Myrick said. “They listen to everything we say, they’re super willing to try new things, and it’s nice having a bigger squad. I feel like it makes us look a lot more put together since there’s more people.”

Merrill Price, one of eight freshmen on the squad, decided to try out for the cheer team to be part of a community on campus.

“It makes me feel like I’m a part of something and involved at our school,” Price said. “It’s nice that I can always have group of people I can rely on.”

Others, like freshman Larkin Long, decided to try out after gaining experience through competitive and middle school cheerleading.

“Doing competitive cheer before joining McCallum cheer has given me a lot more confidence and knowledge about the sport,” Long said. “It’s made me more confident about putting in input on the team and made everything less overwhelming.”

With so many new people in the program, Myrick and her co-captains, seniors Ella Stovall and Kate Bachman, have taken on a more hands-on leadership role. The three of them lead practices and choreograph routines. The three seniors have provided Klein with a strong support system to help him ease into the unfamiliar experience.

Klein has also compensated for his lack of experience with a vibrant personality and an unmistakable impact on the program. Returning and new cheerleaders alike have found him to be an overwhelmingly positive presence.

“He’s just really nice and supportive,” Long said. “He’s new to cheer but he’s adjusting really easily and always cheering us on.”

Junior Hannah Van Houten cheering at Taco Shack. “All the students in the student section helped keep up the school spirit,” Van Houten said. “We didn’t want the loss to stop us from being energetic and cheering on the team. (Dave Winter)

With Klein’s bright outlook and so many additions to the program, this year will surely be full of new traditions for McCallum cheer. In fact, Klein and the captains are considering the possibility of participating in the UIL cheer competition, which McCallum has never entered before.

“I mean, we have enthusiastic freshmen, we have seniors who are so willing to help, everyone in between is definitely also willing to help,” Klein said. “I think it’s a great mix, it’s really good chemistry.”

New cheerleaders are also eager to participate in cheer in new ways.

“I think this is a good year to start it because there are so many freshmen to carry [the tradition] on,” Long said.

Whether or not competitive cheerleading comes to fruition, at the end of the day cheer is all about working together to lift each other up (literally), and bringing school spirit at games, pep rallies, and in the community. 

“Honestly this year is the most advanced the team has ever been and I can’t wait to see how much more we grow as a team,” Bachman said.