Sophomore Step Up: Cheer 2016


Holly Frigon

Standing in line outside of the yellow-tinted gym windows, incoming sophomore Maggie Gray becomes short of breath. The graduating senior with a high blonde ponytail and bright red lipstick opens the dull blue doors into the room. Her chest heaves.

“Good luck Mags,” the cheery voice rang. 

Gray enters the room filled with the sound of a dozen high-pitched cheerleaders. The gaps of silences filled with the buzzing lights. Her palms became sweaty and her smile quivered. It was time. 

East’s cheerleading program changed one of the regulations for the 2016-17 school year that wasn’t taken lightly by the cheerleaders. By allowing sophomores to make varsity for the first time in three years, it made the try-out and everything else involving cheer much more competitive. And because of this, Gray was determined to be one apart of this competitive atmosphere.


Facing the judges with blank looks on their faces, a huge grin spreads across Gray’s face. 5-6-7-8. The four numbers repeated in her head as she moved her arms to the beat of Crazy in Love as the speaker begins to bump. This was it. She had to do her best to achieve her goal of one of the few sophomores lucky enough to make varsity. 

The night after Gray scrolls through the posted list worrying whether she would even make a team. And there it was. Her eyes dart to the name “Maggie Gray” amidst the list of varsity cheerleaders. Gray’s heart skips a beat. 

“I just couldn’t believe that I was going to really be the person that people would [see on the track],” Gray said. “I have loved every minute of it.”

By choosing to place sophomores on a higher level, cheer coach Mallory Gaunce put the upcoming talent in the place where it belonged, even if that meant senior cheerleaders would be cut. This allowed for the program to become more about talent, rather than seniority. 

“It was really because of the upcoming talent we realized that we wanted to make sure we were opening it up for everybody who really wanted to be competitive,” Gaunce said.“As the program becomes more competitive, we need to make our team more competitive.” 

Out of the 19 of the sophomores who tried out for JV and varsity, six of them made the squad. It resulted in two other incoming seniors to be cut.

“At first I was kind of frustrated because sophomore year I could have made varsity with my score,” senior Tyler Lockton said, “But once it was all said and done, I love having sophomores on the team.”

This transition of the program has not only changed the amount of competition within the team, but also allowed for a sense of bonding and community like none other. No one cared if you were a senior or if you were just a sophomore. The only thing that came to mind was that they considered one another family. 

“Going into practices now, it’s like walking into your own house with 20 other sisters, I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” said Gray.