For a second, Miranda Gillespie is flying through the air. She holds her breath. Her mind clears. Then she’s down, cradled in the arms of her teammates.
Miranda is a flyer, one of the Mount Si cheerleaders who perform aerial stunts for spirit routines and competitions.
This breathtaking moment is a lot of fun for her, and the senior is confident that she’ll come down just fine.
“I trust the people that I’m flying with,” she says. On the Wildcat squad, she adds, the whole team’s got everyone’s back.
“We’re all there for each other,” she says. “It takes everyone doing their job to make the routine happen.”
As a sophomore, Miranda came late to cheerleading, and to the sport of tumbling, the inner art of athletic moves like flips and rolls that define the best cheer teams.
But the newcomer threw herself into the routines, and today is one of the team’s success stories. She’ll be with the Mount Si red squad when they head back to national competition this February.
“Once I found what I love to do, I worked really hard for what I wanted, and got where I intended,” the senior said.
Tumbling requires exactly this kind of hard work and consistency, says head coach Jessii Stevens. It brings a whole extra level of athleticism and competition to cheer.
Of the red squad, 12 of 15 cheerleaders have standing tumbling skills, while 11 have running tumbling skills.
At the beginning of the season, Mount Si forms two teams based on tryout scores, looking at each cheerleader’s individual skill.
The red nationals team is tumbling-focused, while the competition squad, called silver, is for varsity non-tumbling.
Some cheerleaders come in with gymnastics skill, and have been working on moves like these for years. Others come in without that experience, and work to pick it up, just like Amanda Smith did.
Amanda, a senior, never tried any kind of cheerleading before her junior year.
“I decided I wanted to try something new.” Senior friends persuaded her to try it.
“I absolutely love it,” she says. “It gives me a lot of happiness. It’s my passion.”
Amanda is a base for flyers like Miranda, and also does tumbles and jumps. She’s always working on new moves, and she never thought she’d be doing something like this.
“Tumbling is the hardest thing,” she said. “It’s those nerves inside me that freak me out, but make me do it. Because I really love it.”
To get ready for nationals, she’s doing more tumbling classes with assistant coach Travis Peterson, and is stretching at home, outside of practice, and working out daily.
Balancing this routine is challenging—Amanda squeezes in homework where she can—but it’s a priority.
“I knew I wanted to focus on cheer my senior year,” she says. “Cheer is a big commitment, but it’s really worth it.”
The team’s first competition was Nov. 17, and both squads had really clean routines.
Now, it’s important to keep the momentum going, and push for harder skills.
Red team has already qualified for state, and the silver squad is expected to follow soon. State is January 26 at Comcast Arena in Everett.
“Just keep in your head what the goal is: State,” says Miranda. “We want to take the energy we had from the first competition and not let it go.”
“We need to come together as a team to achieve success,” Amanda said.
“Team bonding can be hard, especially with as many girls as there are on this team,” she added. “But, everyone doing their own skills, practicing outside, will definitely improve our competition.”
• You can follow Mount Si cheer at http://mountsicheer.weebly.com/.
Mount Si Cheer Schedule
Saturday, Dec. 15
Holiday Invitational at Kentwood
Saturday, Jan. 12
Sequoia Competition at Kentwood
Saturday, Jan. 19
Wintercheer at Skyline HS
Saturday, Jan. 26
Washington Cheerleading State Championships
Saturday, Feb. 2
Sweetheart Classic at Kentwood
Feb. 7 to 11
National High School Cheerleading Championships, Orlando, Fla.
Katy Black, Nicki Mostofi, Miranda Gillespie, Mikaelyn Davis, and Amanda Antoch, are all excited about going to nationals.
Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Mount Si cheerleaders practice routines in the school commons; back row, Josephine Owens, Carina Castagno, Rachel Walker, Tanner Lakeman, Kate Krivanec, Avery Dahline, Sofia Caputo, Isabella Villanueba; front row, Anamika Gilbert, Karley MacMillian, Jannel Rasmussen.