OSAGE | For Osage Green Devils senior basketball cheerleaders Allison Jacobs, Kaitlyn Waite, Haley Walters and Caitlin Jensen, taking part in cheerleading has been an opportunity to forge friendships not only with others on their own squad but with cheerleaders from other schools.
“It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, you’ll make friends,” Jacobs said. “I have some friendships I wouldn’t have had if not for cheering.”
In addition, the seniors have had the opportunity to work with little kids in cheer camps and inspire them to get involved and believe in themselves.
“We want them to know that they can lead someone,” Jacobs said. “At their age, I thought I would be a follower, but I’m not. I hope they get something out of it. When I was little, I loved the "Bring It" movies, and I loved cheer camp, which is why I tried out for cheerleading. You get tired out, but it feels so good afterwards.”
Walters, whose younger sister is a cheerleader for Osage Middle School, recalled the excitement of the younger kids and how much fun it was to work with them, teach them cheers and have them come out to perform with them during one of the games.
“They just always seem so happy,” Walters said.
Each of the four seniors have plans to attend NIACC in the fall. Though none are certain if they will cheer at NIACC, Jacobs, Jensen and Walters have discussed the possibility of trying out. It is a thought because they know they will miss cheerleading.
Jacobs has been cheering for the past four years, while Walter, Jensen and Waite, all began cheering in seventh grade.
“Cheerleading becomes a big part of life,” Jensen said. “In classes, I find myself doing cheers, our own, or even the wrestling and football cheers. It’s crazy.”
Despite the joys it has brought them, each acknowledged there have been struggles to overcome as well. From learning and memorizing dance routines and the precision timing that goes with it, to differing personalities. Being a part of the squad has been a learning experience for each of them.
“Some of us have personalities that clash, but we are definitely a team,” Jensen said. “We need each other. If someone is not there, and we have to borrow someone from another squad, it throws things off, and we’re not in sync, even when they are doing it right.”
“It can be a love/hate relationship, honestly,” said Walters, who took up cheerleading at the encouragement of her mother, who had been a cheerleader herself. “My mom made me try it to see if I liked it. Six years later, I’m still here.”
With so much time devoted to cheering, one factor has become very important to each of the girls, and that is there coach Debbie Goodale.
“Coach treats us like her own kids,” Waite said, "especially the ones who have been there since seventh grade.”
Between learning patience and persistence, overcoming a tendency to be shy, and learning to come out of one’s shell, cheerleading has helped each of them grow.
“We’re one big, happy cheer family,” Jensen said.