Cheering for the Home Team: St. Mark’s cheerleaders renew tradition of cheering at Hockaday pep rallies

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//PICTURED ABOVE:  St. Mark’s cheerleaders wave their pom poms in celebration of St. Mark’s football. On Nov. 5 the cheerleaders performed for the Hockaday pep rally for the first time since 2016.

The St. Mark’s cheerleaders have always been a familiar sight at the St. Mark’s football games, but this year they’re going to have the chance to perform at Hockaday spirit rallies.

Physical Education Health teacher Adaku Ebeniro noted that there has been an unspoken tradition for cheerleaders to be at boys’ football or basketball games and that the Hockaday cheerleaders were solely there to cheer for St. Mark’s.

“We are just as competitive, just as needing or deserving of having fans cheer at our games,” Ebeniro said. “I think the conversation has been long-held for some time now, and we are trying to bring it to fruition so that cheerleaders can also support the athletic teams at Hockaday as well.”

The Athletic Board and the physical education teachers help plan the spirit rallies. Athletic Board Chair Margaret Woodberry mentioned that during the 2016-2017 school year, cheer performed at Hockaday’s spirit rallies, so there has been a push for it to happen again.

“But it’s never really happened because of how busy the cheer teams and we are,” Woodberry said.

Recently, cheer captains Emma Roseman, Casey Freeman and Lily Forbes have been collaborating and meeting with Director of Athletics Deb Surgi and the Athletic Board to discuss the possibilities of cheering at athletic spirit rallies.

“Before, we thought the expectation was to do a full routine at the pep rallies, and out of season it can be dangerous because our sport involves lifting people and throwing them, so that can be a challenge,” Forbes said. 

The Athletic Board and cheer captains have agreed for the routine to be either a cheer or a dance, to make it more manageable for the team. At the pep rallies, the cheer group will be allocated around five minutes to either cheer, dance or chant.

“It will help build spirit and get everyone riled up if they’re leading a chant,” Woodberry said. “This would be a nice way both for the cheerleaders to help support our athletes and for Hockaday to help recognize what they do; just because they aren’t Hockaday cheerleaders, they still do sports and they’re still part of a team and a community.” 

Although the cheerleaders will only be performing a cheer or dance for two of the pep rallies, they performed a full routine for the fall spirit rally because it’s in cheer competition season.

“We’re really excited to do it, especially for the little girls because Coach Surgi thought that the younger Hockadaises would be really into it,” Forbes said. “Our sport is about getting others excited, and so it’ll be fun. We are 35 people, which is a pretty big group to be able to boost the pep at the spirit rally.”

Now that the athletic faculty has accomplished this collaboration, they know it can be done and said they hope to build from it.

Physical Education Health teacher Melanie Horn-Foster said the cheerleaders would enhance the spirit of the whole school and sees the collaboration as a starting point for future pep rallies.

“This is definitely the first step that needs to be done, where it’s at the pep rallies,” Foster said. “Hopefully we can take another step and maybe find some games in which the cheerleaders can cheer as well.”

Story by Hanna Zhang

Photo by Scott Peak

Hanna Zhang

Hanna is a sophomore who is most likely on the couch, Pocky in one hand and Coca Cola in the other. She loves traveling to places with delicious food, specifically the sushi and ramen in Japan.

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