Cheer Preps For State


Elliott Gross, Staff

The Puyallup cheer team has been at work preparing for state competitions as well as preforming at other schools around the area. 

“We’re a year-round activity so we have football in the fall and then winter gets pretty busy. For us, we’re juggling basketball (performances) and competition, and we really must work our schedule around all the other sports schedules because gym availability is just a piece,” Jaelene Mckechnie, the team coach, said. 

Recently the team collaborated with Rogers High School for a halftime performance. 

“We have never done that before and I think a lot of people have viewed Rogers and Puyallup as a rivalry, but it was fun. It was an interesting experience to kind of collaborate with them together,” Mckechnie said. 

The routines that the team performs can always have a chance of going wrong, which is something that team captain and sophomore, Sophia Johnston, considers. 

“It’s kind of engraved in our mind to be a performer, you need to like put on a smile and put that energy out there. So, if something does not go as planned no one else knows your routine, so you just have to act like that was meant to happen and to just keep a smile on your face and do not show it with your body language,” Johnston said. 

The team had not been in school like the rest of the world for over a year and when they returned things had changed, including how their routines were viewed. 

“Everybody livestreamed the games so sometimes the cheerleaders would be on it. Obviously, they were not focusing on the cheerleaders. [The live stream was] for [player’s] parents that couldn’t be there; it was definitely an interesting experience,” Mckechnie said. 

While new members did not get to experience cheer in its entirety, at first some older members got a year or two’s taste of what cheer was like before COVID. 

While it could be questioned that the absence from the team has affected skill levels, Mckechnie views it as fair ground. 

“We all have the same setbacks, so it’s not necessarily one team has more of a disadvantage than the other and the community of coaches and athletes has been super supportive and encouraging, because we’re all doing the same thing,” Mckechnie said. 

While Mckechnie sees her team as incredibly accomplished, she wished that she could experience the thrill of trying out a routine for the first time alongside them. 

“I can’t be on the mat with them and as a coach we invest a lot of time and energy into their routines and helping them be successful,” McKechnie said. “We cheer them on as they’re performing, but I wish sometimes I could just be on the mat to enjoy and experience that with them.” 

Even though this season has had its limitations the team has many members with several different skill points 

“I have a really strong dance background that I bring to the table. My assistant coaches have strength and sense of tumbling as well of knowledge of the rubrics’ competition and so we work really well together with our strings to create the foundation of the routine and then we work with the girls to kind of add their flare to it to what works for them and what kind of skills that they want to showcase,” Jaelene said. 

Alexis Kerzie, sophomore, and the cheer team’s other captain, has contributed her presence to the team as one of its members. 

“I’m used to just zoning out and just letting my body do everything that it knows how to do,” Kerzie said. 

Although performing is a big part of cheering as a sport, with this team also comes competition. 

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that competitive cheer is our sport as well and that we’re competing on the weekends. People don’t come to watch us compete from the school, you know, and I don’t think they really realize that we’re more the just a cheer team,” Mckechnie said. 

With the last couple of years being impacted by Covid, the cheer team is now in person once again and still has several events ahead of them. 

“I’m excited to have another opportunity at state and we went to state two years ago and actually won our division, so that was awesome and then we built that momentum and then Covid took that opportunity away last year, so we’re excited to have another shot at that,” Mckechnie said. 

You can catch the cheer team at the local Daffodil parade this spring season.