Cheer season filled with challenges, but team bonds prevailed


The competitive cheer team in formation in Bishop Gym. (Photo courtesy of Lifetouch)

By Emily Ziajor and Nancy Sanchez

West Chicago’s cheer team placed tenth out of 10 teams at ICCA, a state competition held January 21 in Springfield. 

Although the team gave a solid performance, there were deductions for either stepping off the mat or having a stunt fall, all of which led them to their placing.

Our performance was pretty good. There’s always room to improve in cheer, though. It’s been a pretty chaotic season because we’ve had a ton of injuries and sick people,” said senior Anna Lesny, who started cheer in second grade.

“We did our best. Everything hit, but the stunts just weren’t difficult enough for the judges,” said senior Adayana Guerrero.

Dave Jennings
The team awaits the results at the ICCA competition in January. (Photo by Miley Pegg)

The season has been filled with challenges, and the team hoped to partake in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Sectionals tournament on January 28, but ultimately did not make the cut.

Previously, the team competed at Elgin High School for the Upstate Eight Conference championship. During their performance, the music stopped suddenly and unexpectedly just a few seconds into the routine.

“The audience, made up of other teams and cheer parents, let out a kind of empathetic groan. But almost as quickly as they made that sound, they began giving our girls an eight-count to lock into so their performance would be as minimally disrupted as possible,” said English teacher and spectator Dave Jennings.

Though efforts were made to get the music going again, it failed once more.

“Usually you learn that when the music stops, you just keep going. So we did that part of the routine and then we did our cheer. And then the music was supposed to start again, so we thought, ‘Okay, maybe it will work this time.’ But it didn’t. And so then again, the crowd was counting with us. The crowd was hyping us up and screaming and it was just really fun,” said Guerrero.

What stood out at this performance, according to Jennings, was the fact that other teams “put aside their competitive natures to life and hold one another up.” 

That sort of teamwork has been at the core of this year’s cheer team.

I am new, not only to the school, but to the cheer team as well, and not only have I made new bonds and made new memories with these amazing girls, but we’ve worked hard and accomplished a lot,” said senior America Arredondo Maciel.

Although the season did not pan out as the team hoped, the seniors believe that next year’s team will be even stronger.

“I can truly say I am not ready for this season to be over because it is my last. I cannot wait to see what these girls can accomplish and how much they will grow because they are very talented,” said Maciel.