The Salt River High School cheerleading team is coached by Wi-Bwa Williams, but she said her duties are simply to help guide the girls in the right direction as they take ownership of their team.
“These girls are the ones out there cheering and performing in front of the fans, so I believe they should lead their team,” Williams said.
The Eagles cheer team has created most of their own cheers, but Williams has also introduced several chants and cheers to the team. The girls choreograph their own dance moves and Williams steps in to improve the cohesiveness of the entire group.
Much like other athletic teams on the Salt River campus, the cheer team also participates in study hall before each practice. Williams said she believes it is important to allow the girls time to catch up on homework in order to stay on top of their academics.
Earning respect has been difficult for the cheer team, as most believe cheerleading is not a sport and does not require any sort of athletic ability. Of course, this is far from the truth. Cheerleading requires a lot of athletic ability. Strength, rhythm and endurance are just a few skills each member must possess in order for the entire team to be successful, which is the same with every sports team.
“The girls participate in a strength program lifting weights, and they also run to keep up their endurance,” Williams said. “They have to be strong in order to lift each other and have the endurance to dance through the entire routine.”
Acting Captain Taylor Elesgroth said the cheer team works hard to perform well during games and earn the respect of students around campus. She said the most difficult part of participating on a cheer team that does not receive much praise around campus is trying to get other people to believe in them.
“As the acting captain of the team, I try to keep our team thinking positively and to keep the outside problems outside of the dance room (where the team practices),” Elesgroth said. “It is important for our entire team to get along, because [in the dance room] we are one family and must trust each other.”
Williams agreed, and reiterates to the girls the importance of team chemistry. She said all the girls have to trust each other, because without that the team will not be successful.
“At the beginning of the season, we go through a series of exercises to build trust. One of our challenges is to have a girl standing on a box and falling backwards into the arms of another teammate,” she said. “They have to trust the girl catching them and at the end say why they trust her.”
Williams said Elesgroth is a hard-working athlete who is eager to learn and lead as well. She said her leadership shines through and her relationship with the girls helps their team overall.
“I like leading the girls, and since this is our team we all try to contribute,” Elesgroth said. “We believe in each other and we like to be one team.”