The Other Side of Winter Cheer

“Twist him, twist him, twist him like a pretzel! Come on Trojans, let’s wrestle!”

As the weather turns colder and football season wraps up, cheerleading squads are preparing for their winter seasons. For many squads, this means shifting their focus to basketball; but for some, winter cheer isn’t just about hoops. They may have the added–or sole– responsibility of supporting the wrestling team. In fact, at some schools, especially in my native state of Pennsylvania, wrestling is the premier winter sport!

If you find yourself assigned to the wrestling cheer squad, or your team is adding wrestling to its schedule for the first time, here are some thoughts from wrestling cheer alumnae to help you prepare and get fired up:

“It was my favorite next to football,” said Kelly Neill, former James Caldwell High School cheerleader (NJ).

“I really like cheering for wrestling because even if you lose the overall match, there are still a lot of individual wins and accomplishments,” said Maggie Baier, who cheered at Montoursville High School (PA). “The wrestling team loved having us and really appreciated us cheering for them. We had special cheers for certain guys because it was their ‘favorite cheer.’ We even taught them a few!”

Chrissy Schoonover Bell, an alumna of Tunkhannock High School (PA), says she and her teammates developed close relationships with the wrestlers and their fans, in part because of the close proximity the cheerleaders had to all of the action. “We were all pretty into it. It got a little emotional at times when someone would get hurt,” she said. Not only did her team develop new relationships, but they also learned a new sport! Equipped with their newfound knowledge of wrestling, they got to help out at tournaments, even with running the brackets and scoring matches.

“We liked it because we had more room and greater freedom to jump and stunt than with basketball,” said Kristen Shimmel of her days cheering for Clearfield Area High School (PA). “It was also a lot of fun to think of different chants that involved the wrestlers’ names.”

And just because the floor is covered by a big mat doesn’t mean you can’t do everything you would do at a football or basketball game – cheers, sidelines, jumps, tumbling and stunts. Even a “halftime” routine can be performed prior to the match.

So, “W-R-E, T-L-E, put the S in the middle and wrestle, wrestle, WRESTLE!” Enjoy all sides of winter this season, because wrestlers need cheerleaders too!

photo c/o South Tama County High School cheerleaders