“They have to be brave to lead the crowd” says Alexis Hughes, who alongside Krystal Martin, has coached Wylie’s high school cheer program for the last three years, and while Martin describes Wylie as having one of the “biggest, but more conservative” crowds, it doesn’t change what they are expected to do. “Our goal is to lead the students and community in school spirit,” says Martin.
Across Texas some cheer programs have decreased spirit-related activities to focus on competition, and while Wylie does compete annually at the UIL State Spirit Competition, Hughes says they use competition to strengthen their athletes for cheering at sporting events, pep rallies, and at the collegiate level.
Only established in 2015, the UIL Spirit Competition requires a cheer team to perform a multi-part routine that energizes the crowd and integrates the school fight song and a band chant. Since 2015, Wylie has placed in the top 20, three of the six times they competed with last year earning their highest placing of 13 out of 68 for our division.
As for cheering in college, the coaches say they have seen an increase in their athletes cheering at the next level. Four members from last year committed to cheer at ACU, Tarleton State, Angelo State, and Blinn College. Others from past cheer teams have cheered at Texas Tech, Hendrix College, and Texas A&M’s competition team to name a few.
Wylie cheer has seen growth across the district in the past 5 years, whether its participants in Pup Squad Camp or at the junior high or high school programs. High school principal Reagan Berry, who used to be the district administrator over the cheer program district-wide, believes the role of cheer and how it’s executed have changed over time.
“Cheerleaders today are not the cheerleaders from even when I was in school. They are athletes that have crafted their gift and that could go win trophies of their own on sheer athleticism and talent,” she said. “The amount of work that our cheerleaders put into each Friday is unbelievable. They plan and lead every pep rally as well as lead the crowd at games, and I think ours do a great job and I’m excited to see them go to work this season.”
By Kristen Johnson
Team Photos By Stan West