She’s got spirit! How about you?

Senior Sarah Cross talks about her years of cheer leading and prepares for competition.

Senior+Sarah+Cross+has+been+cheering+since+seventh+grade.

Courtesy of S. Cross

Senior Sarah Cross has been cheering since seventh grade.

Hailee McQueen

After the bell rings at the end of the day, rather than going home like some students, senior Sarah Cross prepares for cheer practice. She trains for over two hours, four days a week in order to get ready for competition season. After practice, she heads to her tumbling class to practice even more, getting better and stronger.

Cross did not always cheer while growing up. Her love for the sport began in seventh grade, starting at the Huntley Cheer Association. With a background in tumbling, Cross wanted to give cheerleading a shot.

“I was just kind of bored of just tumbling, and I wanted to do something else. I wanted to do a team thing,” Cross said.

After two years at HCA with her friends, she moved on to high school cheer. Cross began her high school years as a flyer her freshman year then moved on to become an alternative for varsity her sophomore year. Now, Cross has had a set spot on the varsity team for two years, which has been her biggest accomplishment. 

“Sarah is an awesome addition to the team,” varsity Coach Renee Fowler said. “She’s such a hard worker and so focused. That’s just a great athlete to have on any team because she’s always working to get better.” 

“It’s great being on a team with Sarah,” senior Alli Engels said. “She’s super supportive and fun to be around and she is a really good cheerleader!”

Cheering is more than just cheering on the sidelines at football or basketball games. Some consider cheer not to be a sport. That is because they do not see what happens when it comes to the competition season. Each routine requires a team effort, high energy, and consists of jumps, tumbling, stunting, pyramids, and dance.

“[Cheer] is very hard, especially after our COVID year,” Cross said. 

Due to COVID-19 and cheer being a contact sport, Cross’s cheer season was cut short, starting in January and ending in March. 

“Every time one of the cases would get too high, we would have to cancel practice for weeks,” Cross said.

Changes were also made to how the sport was done. Stunting was not allowed, causing routines to be full of tumbling mainly.

“It’s been hard coming back to stunting, but with the conditioning we’re doing, I think we’re getting back to where we used to be,” Cross said.

With a spot on the team, it is easy to blend in, but Cross stands out in her own way, thanks to her tumbling skills and her personality. According to Fowler, Cross does not cause any ripples and makes sure everyone gets along, taking over a leadership position on the team. 

“She’s a great leader. She’s soft-spoken but has a strong will, which is a great asset to any team because she knows what she wants and she goes after it,” Fowler said. “It’s just amazing that I am just so fortunate that I get the opportunity to coach her and be a part of her life.”

Cross is grateful for the sport because it has allowed her to grow and change for the best. Cheer gave her more social skills, branching out to people who she normally would not talk to during school. 

“I would probably not even consider talking to them, but I would talk to them each year and become friends with people that I never thought of.” Not only has Cross seen how she has grown, but Fowler has been able to see Cross grow since starting with her as well. 

“She always continued to push herself to make it better and better, which is amazing to watch,” Fowler said. “She made goals for herself and made sure to reach them just to make sure the team was better.”

Over the years, Cross has made many memories during Friday night football games at competitions and even at practice. Being able to spend time with the people she loved most and getting the crowds hyped up were some of her favorites. After her senior year, Cross hopes to move on to college cheer.

“I think she would be a great addition to any college team. She has so much potential and she has so many skills,” Fowler said.