In the past eight years, the Northwood High School Cheerleading Squads have qualified for the state competition six times! Those six times include the following:
2010 – 4th Place
2013 – 2nd Place
2014 – 2nd Place
2015 – 2nd Place
2016 – 3rd Place
2017 – 2nd Place
Recently, we were able to sit down with Coach Naomi Smith and several of the NHS cheerleaders to discuss the cheerleading program at NHS and the road to this year’s state competition where our Rangers earned their place as state runner up!
This year, the NHS squad consisted of 22 athletes. Additionally, this is the first time that NHS has had two males on the squad. Of the 22 athletes, 16 of them cheered both seasons and 21 of the 22 competed at the state competition. Twelve of the 21 athletes had never competed at the state competition before. Furthermore, this year’s squad is a relatively young squad, as there are only two seniors this season. Coach Smith returned as the cheer coach after a very short hiatus. When asked if there was anything difficult or stressful about returning, she responded that there was nothing stressful about her return. In fact, she stated, “I felt like I came home.”
When asked to explain the time commitment it takes to be a competitive cheerleader at NHS, Coach Smith explained that the squad usually starts working at the end of the summer. They spend a weekend with their choreographer in order to learn their routine. During football season, they dedicate one practice per week to the routine. Once basketball begins, they begin the process of seeing who will continue on during basketball season and begin dedicating all of the practices to the competition routine. The cheerleaders take advantage of home basketball games to practice competition stunts, cheers, and chants. Coach Smith added, “With moving into the new building and practicing in the same building as our games, we are hoping that we will be able to set up our mats during halftime of the varsity basketball games and work on the whole routine in front of a crowd a little more often.” This would really help the team practice and perfect their performance.
Though we are used to seeing our cheerleaders at football and basketball games, there is much about cheerleading that many do not realize. Coach Smith explained that cheerleading is a very physical sport. Practices usually run about three hours long, with the student athletes working on stunts. Junior Taylor Hawkins explained, “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication; most people think it’s really easy because you just throw some girls in the air and catch them, and that’s that, but it’s not.” Freshman, Kylee Peart added, “A lot of hard work and dedication goes into making a routine and getting everything to look the way it should. Hours of practice goes into it. It takes a lot more work than the average person might think it does.” Finally, junior Madison Mahoney explained, “It’s not as easy as it looks. Many believe cheerleading isn’t a sport, but it takes a lot of athleticism to throw/lift a girl in the air and catch her and do it properly on the right counts.”
Also, many may not realize that local competitions do not divide the squads like the state competition. The state competition divides squads based on the number of girls in the school district. Local competitions divide the squads based on the number of participants on the squad, the number of males on the squad, or whether or not the team stunts. Coach Smith further explained, “We always want to do our best, but we look at the local competitions like scrimmages to get us ready for the big show.” In order to qualify for the state competition, the squad must perform well at the regional event. The judges scores determine qualification for the state event.
When asked about the best part of being a Ranger cheerleader, junior Delaney Genson, explained, “The best thing about being a Ranger cheerleader is the support we have from our school. Not everyone thinks cheerleading is a sport or even hard. The staff and student body give the cheerleaders so much support. It really makes our team want to be on the sidelines at the games and show everyone what we are capable of because they want to see it, not because they have to watch.” Sophomore Isaiah Bolyard added, “The best part is being in front of so many people and being able to do something unique. Also, for a small school, it’s really great to have such a vast and skilled team. Our team has a lot of potential.” Junior Rashalle Jeffries concluded, “The best part is being able to get the crowd pumped up for football games, basketball games, and also being with the group of girls. We bond; we’re like our own little family and it’s going to be one of the best memories I’ll ever have.”
Coach Smith stated that she is so thankful that our athletes have such a supportive administration and Board of Education that allows them to prepare for the collegiate level in the sport. Currently, we have three alumni cheerleaders cheering at the collegiate level, and there have been many others throughout our NHS cheer history. Coach Smith believes that much of this is attributed to the success of the feeder program – Little Ranger Cheer. The volunteer coaches do an amazing job of getting the fundamentals down so that when they reach the high school level, more time can be spend focusing on stunting.
Asked what they are most proud of this season, junior Kaylee Schultz said, “I am proud of the obstacles we have passed. We had some injuries this season, and we had some people leave the team. We had to change some stuff around multiple times, but it all came together in the end with a great outcome. That great outcome being runner-up at the state competition.” Sophomore, Ariel Heise added, “I am most proud of how I’ve seen everyone grow so much from start to finish. Many new girls (and two guys) had never cheered before, but they came into the team and learned lots of chants and techniques. Also, our team as a whole did a great job being flexible and adjusting to the many changes that were made to our routine during nearly every practice. I’m very proud of our team growth.”
While Coach Smith has had many proud moments with this year’s squad, her proudest moment of the season, might surprise some. “My proudest moment of this season was when the team performed a solid routine in front of the students and staff the Friday before the state competition. The team was way more nervous to perform in front of their peers than competing in front of a packed St. John Arena,” said Coach Smith. Finally, when asked about the most rewarding part of being a coach, Coach Smith explained that it is the lifelong relationships that are built with the athletes. “I always tell the team at the beginning of every season, ‘Once you have cheered for me, you will always be one of my kids,’ and I truly mean that. I will always want the best for them and I will always care for them. I love when the alumni come back and I am able to reconnect with them.”
Congratulations to our Ranger Cheerleading Squad on their many accomplishments this season!
Interested in Open Enrollment at NHS?
Thursday, March 30th from 6 – 7:30pm, NHS will be hosting a Community Open House for those interested in open-enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year. More information can be found at http://www.northwoodschools.org/article/14102
Teen Institute 2nd Quarter Event
This event will take place Saturday, March 25th from 12pm – 3pm at NHS!
Join Us For the Final Walk-Through of the Olney Buildings
Weekly Update from Principal Krontz
Check the following link for important elementary reminders including information regarding Kindergarten registration! https://www.smore.com/j0vnt
Northwood Easter Parade
Mark your calendars for April 8th!
Northwood Safety Town