Mendham Cheer: Keeping Spirits High

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Anjali Shah, Staff Writer

Along with Winter Cheer, Competition Cheer has been going strong here at Mendham. Both teams have overcome obstacles that COVID has presented, still managing to make their season work to an extent. 

Winter cheer is currently practicing and planning to cheer for basketball. Normally, the girls do a halftime show at home basketball games and cheer on the sidelines. This will look different this year as there are no spectators allowed for winter sports, limiting the number of cheerleaders cheering at a given event. 

The Patriot talked to Heather Gartner, senior on competition cheer, to get an idea as to how this year’s competition cheer season stacks up against last year’s. 2021’s team consists of 23 girls who have tried out. Heather told The Patriot that “Competition cheerleading is a sport where the team is working together physically and mentally for the goal of winning and getting a bid to Nationals in Florida. We travel to competitions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even Florida to compete. We take it very seriously since we are representing our team and our school wherever we go.” The girls usually begin their season in August and end in February, but are now ending in April due to COVID. Normally, she stated, they have around 6-8 competitions but will only be competing at Nationals. The goal of the team is to win at Nationals in Florida, taking home the title. This year, the team has not attended other competitions but was granted a bid to compete at Nationals since they obtained one last year. They will attend virtually, submitting a video of their routine to be scored. 

Mendham’s Competition Cheer is extremely competitive and talented. Heather reported that “Last year at all local competitions including Regionals we were undefeated in both our game day and varsity routines. At Nationals we made it to the semi-finals.”

Last year’s Competition Cheer Team at the Garden State Championship. Photo courtesy of Heather Gartner.

Disney is one of her fondest memories of high school. She outlined their normal schedule for when they arrive to participate in Nationals. The first day consists of practice and team dinner, followed by a full day of practice on the second day. The team also goes to a park to enjoy some team bonding and fun before competition day. On the third day, the team competes at the ESPN Center as many times as they qualify for. Heather told The Patriot that “last year we completed our varsity routine once and our game-day routine twice all in one day.” The competition also occurs on the fourth day, if the team qualifies. “It is a great experience. Competing at the ESPN center is such an honor and spending quality time with your teammates is an unforgettable experience.”