Being a high school student can be hard, but being a high school cheerleader makes you face a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes. When people think of cheerleaders, they tend to always think the same image: a blonde, skinny, hyper, popular, ditzy girl who is dating the captain of football team, and probably ends up Homecoming queen. Well, that could not be further from the truth. Cheerleading has evolved in the last few decades, and has grown into an incredibly competitive sport. So, goodbye to the days of pom-pom cheer; these teams are soaring to new heights, and the degree of difficulty in the stunts are right up there with competitive gymnasts.

First off, being a cheerleader in high school does not necessarily mean you will be popular. One reason cheerleaders tend to be popular is because they are so involved in many different aspects of school. It is a great opportunity to meet new people in different social groups: you know all of the athletes because you are at all the games, and share the gym for practices; you also probably know most of the people in ASB or the student counsel because your team is involved in all the pep rallies and fundraising efforts. Cheerleading teaches you how to speak to people and have confidence in yourself, which can be difficult during those high school years.

On being ditzy, well, we all have had our moments when we said something stupid, moments we wish we could take back. But, cheerleaders are
not stupid. Cheerleaders on a high school team have to maintain a high grade point average to stay on the cheerleader squad. Cheerleaders are constantly at practice, or at Friday night games, so they have to prioritize their time to get things done. You never thought learning new choreography would teach you how to manage time and priorities so well! You learn choreography one step at a time, in little sections at a time, then you put the entire dance together. The same works for life and school–you tackle one task at a time until all the work is complete.  Cheerleaders also have sharpen their memorization skills to hammer down entire routines, which makes you great at remembering all the information for that big test!

Pertaining to all cheerleaders being blonde and skinny–cheerleaders come in all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. Cheerleading does not discriminate: if you can do the stunts and make the team, it does not matter what you look like. When most people think of cheerleaders, they often think of professional cheerleaders, which does not show the full spectrum of cheerleading. It is like basing all girls on supermodels–it is an unrealistic portrayal of women. Don’t let your size or hair color ever deter you from being a cheerleader. High school can be a tough place for some people, but luckily, cheerleaders support each other, and don’t let stereotypes get in their way.

Being a cheerleader in high school is a great experience: you learn a lot of important life lessons, like confidence and time management. Being a cheerleader also gets you involved in school activities, which makes the most of your high school years. Your cheerleading squad is like your second family, and most teams also have ‘bigs’ and ‘littles’, where you help mentor young incoming cheerleaders. Cheerleading stereotypes exist, but when you look at cheerleading as a whole, it is an amazing sport to be involved in. High school can be difficult, but being a cheerleading and having the support of your squad makes those hard days easier. We all have insecurities, but when you have an entire squad who has your back, you can conquer anything!

Are you a high school cheerleader? Share your experience with us in the comments!