Who cheers for Cheer?

The cheer team describe their relationship with the football team and the community

Gauri Manoj and Vincent Zhao

Holding onto a long-standing tradition, the Cheer team showed up to MVHS a few hours before school, their hands filled with decor. It was 6:30 a.m. on the day of the football team’s senior night. They entered the team’s locker rooms ready to adorn it with posters and streamers to show support for the team. 

Junior and Cheer captain Mihret Tesfaye and senior and football player Miransh Das say the cheerleaders have given several gifts to the football players, from a bag of tangerines to Gatorade during Homecoming to the bright neon pink socks the team wore to show support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Das says although the Cheer team goes out of their way with these gifts, it often goes unappreciated. 

“They gave us a whole bag of tangerines and we didn’t eat many of them, but I was glad to have them and I did eat [them],” Das said. “I’m not sure if what they do for us comes out of a place of necessity or being forced to by their coach, or if it’s more genuine, but I do appreciate [it].”

However, sophomore and cheerleader Jooha Kim says that this long-standing gift-giving tradition has received many thank yous from the football players. Decorating the team room has created a culture for the team as Kim explains that it’s a “bonding experience as well.”

Furthermore, Tesfaye also feels appreciated when the players actually use the gifts, whether it’s seeing them drink the Gatorade the Cheer team brought during Homecoming or wearing the pink socks. To show their gratitude, the football team also gifted the Cheer team cups imprinted with “Homecoming 2022” along with candies and Starbucks. 

While the relationship off the field is improving, the situation on the field remains difficult for the Cheer team according to Tesfaye. She has noticed a “clash” between the Cheer team and the student section when they both try to call out similar cheers. Kim wishes that the student section would cheer alongside the Cheer team’s cheers to show more collective support for the football team. Tesfaye also finds that student responses to their cheers during games are often weak, but Tesfaye and Kim both acknowledge that this is an inevitable situation. 

“A lot of [the] time, we call cheers we want them to respond to,” Tesfaye said. “We want them to shout out purple or gold or defense or offense, but a lot of the time, that’s just not the case and that’s just always going to happen.”

Furthermore, Das says that although football players notice many of the cheers during games, it’s something the team has grown accustomed to and they “don’t find it overly inspiring.” While Das believes the Cheer team helps boost the players’ morale, he does not think it helps them perform better. 

Despite the increase in appreciation for the Cheer team this year, Kim says stereotypes in American media have incorrectly portrayed what it means to be a cheerleader to some students at MVHS, reducing them to students driven by the idea of popularity.

“I think being [a cheerleader] really means reaching out to a lot of people that a school might not be able to reach in ways of spirit, especially at MVHS,” Kim said. “In the movies, people think cheerleaders are just there to be popular, but I think that’s an incorrect mindset that people have of us. And I think it’s a mindset that people should be changing.”