The Saugus High School cheerleading team held their annual Saugus Cheer Kids’ Clinic fundraiser on Sunday afternoon, filling the school gym with girls who dream of one day performing to packed stadiums.
About 150 girls from kindergarten to eighth grade were broken into groups led by the 54 current Saugus cheerleaders. During the clinic, members of the cheer team taught the girls different chants, cheers and acrobatic moves. Then on Oct. 4, the girls will be invited back to perform with the cheer team at a home game.
Candace Rogers, head coach and advisor for the cheer team, said she thinks the clinic is so popular because many of the younger girls in the community look up to the cheerleaders as role models.
“The girls on the team really love giving back to the community and the thing I love about cheer is how supportive it is of everyone,” Rogers said. “I think cheer is so popular because not only do we have our own sport, but the girls are supporting their classmates in the sports they do. The girls all think this is a lot of fun and it teaches them teamwork at the same time.”
Ramon Zuniga enrolled his five-year-old daughter in the clinic because he wanted to support the community and because his daughter is interested in the sport.
“Cheer is a fun sport for the kids and I think that school involvement is important because it even has an academic boost that helps the students’ future,” Zuniga said. “My daughter was a bit nervous this morning before she came but she has a great, big smile on her face so we can tell she had a good time. It was such a proud moment for me to see her participate in the routine at the end and not be shy.”
Booster club President Trish Parker says the clinic has been held annually for about 12 years, and that it is a good opportunity for the young girls to learn and for the cheerleaders to be mentors.
“I think the best part about this clinic is that it brings together girls of different ages and they get to actually cheer on the sidelines at an actual home game,” Parker said. “At least a third of our current cheerleaders attended this workshop and then came back to join the team. I think it’s so successful because we make it fun for girls and we give them individualized attention.”
Twelve-year-old Reese Lande participated in the clinic for the first time because she wants to become a cheerleader when she attends Saugus High.
“This was a really good experience especially because we were taught the actual cheers that they do at games,” Lande said. “The cheerleaders were really good at teaching us and it was fun doing this clinic with my friends, and cheerleading is such a happy sport.”
Senior cheerleader Lindsey Szabo said she was very motivated to set a good example for the young girls who were learning from her.
“I remember that when I went through this clinic I really looked up to the girls,” Szabo said. “I love passing down what I have learned to the younger girls from the acrobatics to how to enunciate words. It’s exciting to lead a group of girls and watch how they improve throughout the day.”
Brianna Carillo, another senior cheerleader, said the clinic is a good testing ground for the younger girls to determine whether the sport of cheer is for them.
“I remember coming to this as a kid and taking pictures with the cheerleaders and now I’m in my senior year and I’m in charge of the other girls,” Carillo said. “It’s challenging to work with all the different age groups, but it feels good to be a role model for these young girls and show them what cheer is. So many people are trying to prove that cheer is not a sport and that it’s just pom poms, but it’s so much more. We built leadership, teamwork and social skills and there’s so much work and dedication here that the naysayers need to rethink their stance.”