By Paola Diaz ’19, Diana Gomez ’19, Styles Pinkston ’19, and Atziri Tapia ’19
On Oct. 5-7, 50 Pritzker students arrived in the gym early in the morning to try out for the cheerleading positions on the team.
The coaches graded them on their arm strength, the pointing of their toes while jumping, landings, if their voices were loud and proud, and showing a good smile.
Coaches Alison Lifka, Sarah Cross, and Stephanie Kozofsky all agree that even if students make the team, school comes first. Before the cheerleaders were even let on the team, they had to log into powerschool and write down their current grades, GPA, demerits, and LaSalles.
This year, the Pritzker Cheer team is getting help from a gym called Cheer Destiny. They plan to work together with a professional cheerleader to bring the Pritzker cheerleaders to success.
When preparing for championships, Lifka, Kozofsky, and Cross made sure that their cheerleaders are prepared not only physically, but mentally as well.
Lifka says that in their first month of training they have been focusing on flexibility and strength, and, as time goes by, they will start adding more skills into routines. Lifka hopes to incorporate some tumbling into their routines.
Karla Merida, a freshman trying out, said, “I like being part of a team and cheerleaders show that by having each others back and supporting one another.” This motivated her to try out. During the clinics, the students began with the instructed stretches created by the coaches in order to stretch their muscles to achieve height in their jumps. From there, coach Lifka thought the first jumps the students had to learn they were a pike jump, a toe touch, and a hurdler. The students learned the motion sequence but some struggled. With the help of last years cheerleaders, the beginners began to learn it. Lastly, they learned the Pritzker Pride Song, all while wearing a big smile and showing strong arms.
Angelica Fernandez, a senior cheerleader, offered advice on how to keep up grades while also cheerleading. She said “What’s good is actually looking to your teammates. Because you guys are all trying to get through Pritzker, get the A’s and get good grades or whatever it may be. So studying together and keeping each other in check.” Fernandez says her favorite thing about being in cheerleading is her fellow students on the team. She loves working together, watching each other grow, becoming better and better and becoming a really big family.
Pritzker College Prep has previously won the Noble cheerleading competition twice, most recently last year. Pritzker cheerleaders competed along with other Noble schools and won first place making everyone proud. “Being part of a team, what matters to you doesn’t necessarily matter to everyone as a team effort. Once you sign up for a team, make sure you show up. If you don’t show up, your whole team gets affected by it,” says Fernandez when asked what she has learned about being a cheerleader.