Inside the Cheerleading Experience

What does it mean to be a cheerleader at St. Stephen’s? Editor Michelle Lyu provides a firsthand look into cheerleading, beyond the red shirts and pom-poms.



Dressed in red shirts, black mini-skirt, and wearing light red bows, we carried our poms and were ready to cheer on the field for the upcoming football game. Everyone is excited with beads running down their heads. We practice all types of cheers before the start of the game to make sure everyone is capable and comfortable with calling the names of those cheers as well as performing them in front of the fans. 


To me, the most romantic scene is when someone sings the National Anthem and the voice is ethereal around the quiet field. We are all facing the American flag, standing still and prospecting for an exciting game ahead. As the drum started, our players gathered together at the left end of the field as a circle. They are holding each other’s arms tight and meanwhile, the team leader in the middle of the circle walks cheering up the whole team. After that, they count down from three, and with a #2 leading the whole team, they run through the red Spartan flag roaring and hustling to the open field. The game now begins! 



“Being a cheerleader enables me to know more about the athletic events in our school which I don’t normally relate to. The game’s result has now become important to me and I care a lot about the Spartan spirit. I also find joy in cheering itself – I feel myself more energetic and confident dancing in front of audiences.” said Sharon Li ‘24. 


As cheerleaders, we aim to get everyone excited about the game and have audiences cheering for our team. During the game, we soon discover that there are many problems we find prickly to deal with. For example, there may be another school’s cheerleading team standing next to our team and cheering for our opponents. Of course, we are going to beat both their football and cheerleading teams! As a result, we show the audience the biggest smile and sing as loud as our throat doesn’t break. It may sound a bit exaggerated, but here’s the fact–if you don’t make yourself louder, your voice is going to be engulfed by the drumming and the shouts of the audience themselves. 


But don’t take cheerleading as a mere duty–it is an enjoyable process for cheerleaders themselves too! Initially I, an introvert who is not used to speaking in front of large crowds, find calling cheer challenging. To be honest, I even cried in the afternoon before the first game because I was worried about making mistakes in movements and forgetting the lines of cheers. Nonetheless, when the game began everything became different–people were excited that they stamped their feet and called out the name of their favorite players, some fans even brought along the big head photo of their favorite players! Songs soon filled the spacious field, spreading as far as everyone in the nearest dorms knew that there was a game going on on the football field tonight. 


I watched the players running across the field and rushing against each other as my heart got thrilled too. Dancing with the rhythm, I soon forgot the presence of the audience and began to dance for myself. The gentle wind at dusk blew past my face and the red ribbon on the ponytail was shaking with the beats. Everything was so intense yet so cozy. 


Whenever there was a “touchdown” by our team on the field, we would speak aloud “T-O-U-C-H Down, Touch down, Spartans, Touch down” while opening our arms wide and mimicking the letters. This was a moment of victory, and it belongs to us. Nevertheless, there will always be situations when our team is falling behind. By then, we would do some aggressive cheers, such as “If you want to win tonight, you gonna F-I-G-H-T fight fight fight!” Thus, there’s never a case that the football team is fighting alone as we cheerleaders are their loyal backups.