Cheering at COVID-altered football games


Image courtesy of Taylor Anderson

If this high school football season wasn’t anticlimactic enough with less than a third of the fans in the stadium, the SLHS cheer team still has to stand on the track to pep up the small crowd in this dreary March weather. These girls are used to a full and enthusiastic student section, an even more passionate parent section, warm fall weather, and no masks to muffle their cheering voices. The team was unsure at first if they’d even be allowed on the sidelines of football games, but are grateful now that they can continue the iconic tradition this year. 


The limited audience doesn’t so much affect the players as much as it does the cheerleaders. “It’s harder to be spirited,” junior Ruby Heitmann says, “It feels like we’re cheering to no one but a few parents.” Her fellow 11th grade teammate, Kennedy Alston, similarly responded, “It is a little discouraging when a huge factor of the sport is crowd response, and we don’t get that aspect this year due to COVID.” As Heitmann and Alston can agree, it’s harder for the team to do their job of getting the crowd up on their feet, as it is devoid of a hype squad, marching band and all other excitable students. 


To add to the challenge, the girls have to deal with a mask over their mouths that muffle their otherwise loud voiced cheers. “Cheering with a mask is hard, and the lack of fans definitely makes it harder, but just being at the games adds some normalcy back into the fun parts of school,” comments freshman, Kenzie Clifford. Many of the other cheerleaders agree that a mask concealing their facial expressions and voices contradicts everything they do on the sideline, but ultimately enjoy the privilege to be able to continue cheering at football games.


Junior Elodie Decker brings up the topic of competing during COVID, and overall agrees with her teammates that “cheering with a mask is definitely very hard, especially when doing a  full out routine, but it’s all worth it to be back doing the sport I love!” 


Having to smile with only their eyes, the cheerleading experience these girls are enduring this season sure is different. Through the obstacles and hardships, this team has made it work together. You could truly say that masked Seahawks are still the same enthusiastic Seahawks they’ve always been.