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Chrilling Injustices

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

Photos by Wendy Bello Mata

“That was sloppy.” “That was not coordinated at all.” “This is boring.” It’s very easy to shut down a whole team of students by making those kinds of comments, but it’s better to have some information before you conjure up your own opinion. With this in mind, you may ask, “Well where can I find information on our Cheer and Drill teams?” Well look no further, for here is an entire article just about these teams. As Drill Captain Lani Tunzi says, “Drill is not Cheer, we are not the same thing.” Cheer and Drill are very different, yet one and the same.

The main aspects of cheer are the stunts and the dances that go into it. Stunting can include a team of four, lifting a cheerleader above their heads and hopefully catching them as they flip in the air. It can also be swaying a cheerleader on all four limbs before lifting them all in a matter of ten seconds whilst staying on beat, and matching the movements of other stunts. However, there is still an entire dance aspect. Learning a 5-10 minute routine requires focus; and studying all those moves in a matter of a week takes skill, stamina, and intelligence.

What Cheer Captain Raeanne Baylosis says about what prompted her to join cheer is, “I prefer dancing more than sharpness.” And being a sharp, synchronized unit is what drill does best. If one or two people were to be offbeat or not matched up with the rest of the team during a performance, the entire performance would be out of whack. But, when completed in sync, it’s a hypnotic show that never ceases to impress. But besides their practical differences and skills, both of these teams share a real concern about their unfair treatments and social injustices.

Cheer and drill are frequently criticized by students with zero experience, who often believe they could do better or that the mesmerizing feat they just witnessed is easy. The accomplishments of Cheer and Drill take enormous effort, for both members and captains, each playing a significant role.

When watching a pep rally or attending a football game, it may seem to be repetitive to watch the cheer team lift a cheerleader in the air, or drill moving to Cardi B’s “I Like It”. However, with every performance, there is a new level of change or improvement. One performance they’ll lift a cheerleader the next performance that same cheerleader is doing flips in the air, or they might speed up the Cardi B song for a much faster and hypnotic rendition.

Drill/cheerleaders practice full, complex routines, which they have just a week to get down to the tee. They not only have to get them down perfectly, they need to perform them during lunchtime for a pep rally in front of hundreds of people and again during a football game. And that’s just the drill/cheerleaders. Captains, of course, have to lead, and the captains for both teams have a lot of responsibility. They have to create routines for pep rallies and football games. Therefore, there’s a need to produce a routine in only a few days, but also have to teach it to every one of the members.

It seems like an immense work for anybody to do, let alone a high school student. For example, Drill Captain Lani Tunzi has to create and teach complex routines for drill, but also holds the title of ASB President, therefore becoming a leader for an overwhelming number of students. Being an ASB President requires the supervision/ coordination of events around the school such as school dances and football games, on top of her responsibilities as Drill Captain.

Needless to say, they have people to help them. Lani Tunzi has the help of her ASB Co-President Sarah Morales, Raeanne Baylosis has the help of Co-Captain Olivia Danao, and of course, they have the help of their coaches Karyn Smith (Drill) and Christie Sanchez (Cheer). With the help of many other people to split the workload, being a captain is significantly more manageable.

You may ask, “Why should I listen to a word this guy says? What does he know that I don’t?” Well besides the extensive interviews with coaches, cheerleaders and drill members, I conducted, I have participated in Dustbowl. If you are a new student or a homeless person who has stumbled upon this newspaper that you decided to use as a blanket, Dustbowl is a school tradition where the Junior and Senior guys do the cheers and drills, while the Junior and Senior girls compete in a game of football.

When I did Dustbowl, I learned all the stunt work, dances, and synchronized drill routines. It wasn’t easy. Stunting requires 3 people to lift up one person. Two people on each side (bases) would use their hands for the “flier” to use their feet to step on, and to lift up the “flier”. I was the “back-spot”, who would be the one to stabilize the “flier” and catch the torso of the flier and protect their head. Broken down, it all seems pretty simple, but remembering your counts and knowing when to flip the “flier” or throw them, as well as keeping a dazzling smile plastered on your face is when it becomes complex.

Even in the drilling aspect of the routine, being in sync with every person is the hardest part. Because there might be a member who won’t take it as seriously or one that takes it too seriously and over exaggerates all the movements. So being a serious, sharp team that drill team takes enormous focus as well as organization. Even though my experience with Dustbowl was difficult, members of drill and cheer have it harder, constantly having to learn and undergo the same experiences a week at a time.

Some don’t take cheer and drill seriously. The idea that drill and cheer aren’t real sports is just not valid. Cheers and drill endure the same as any other sport. They practice in a range of weather. They are either in cold, wet, below 60-degree weather or hot, dry, above 90-degree weather. Football players have to practice in the same conditions, same as tennis players, soccer, baseball. Cheer and drill compete in competitions which is equivalent to football players playing in playoffs or championship games. And isn’t a sport a physical activity, sometimes involving a team, for the people’s entertainment? Cheer and drill check off all those requirements.

The cheer and drill team has the dynamic of yin and yang. Two seemingly opposite teams, one revolving around dance and the other synchronicity, but the same through inequality. There is no rivalry between the two. Before each other's performances each team chants “L-O-V-E, we love the drill/cheer team.” Both teams are aware of what they go through and recognize, or even love, the effort they put into performing. It’s time that both teams get their recognition through others. People say what they want to say about the drill team or cheer team, yet they don’t have that foundation of information to preach their opinions. With this new-found information, you should have a different outlook on both teams, and hopefully, that outlook is positive.

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