The North Fort Myers High School football team isn’t the only one getting ready for the regular season this fall.
The cheerleading squad was also hard at work on its new routines this past week as it held a training camp in the gym.
The team may have worked in air-conditioned comfort, but that didn’t make it any easier as a team of certified instructors put them through the paces for four days, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with new cheers, dances and stunts for them to work on for the coming season.
Danielle Thompson, varsity cheer coach, said the girls have learned a lot of new skills they haven’t tried before and have worked very hard to master them quickly.
“We want to use them at pep rallies, games and possibly take with them into college cheer if they do that,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of team bonding as well.”
For the last two years there was a cheer camp at FGCU the squad took part in along with other teams. This year, the cheerleaders had to pay to foot the bill for the instructors to come to their school, Thompson said.
The camp featured instructors from the Universal Cheerleading Association, a national brand through Varsity, who taught the team cheers, dances, stunts, jumps and cheer-related things.
Thompson said so far the team, which had 39 members at the camp with another 18 incoming freshmen soon to arrive, has looked great.
“They have been learning the material quickly to the point where the instructors have taught them the more difficult things they didn’t anticipate teaching,” Thompson said. “They’ve done stunt progression, from the basics to the more advanced stunts.”
Morgan Kosloski, UCA cheer instructor who travels all over the area throughout the summer, said the team has done well perfecting their game day routines.
“We’ve taught them two cheers, some sideline routines, two dances and they have more to learn. They’ve been picking them up quickly,” Kosloski said.
Just that morning the kids had learned an entirely new dance and more advanced stunts.
Mercedes Lewellen, a junior cheerleader whose mother coaches the freshmen and JV squads, said the team was doing well nailing down the routines.
“We’re making a lot of progress. The coaches participate a lot, but the UCA leaders have been teaching us a lot and it’s been great,” Lewellen said. “We have more teamwork now and it’s a lot less stressful.”
Her teammates agreed.
“We’ve learned a lot of new material we’ll use at pep rallies and at games,” said Hannah Robbins. “It brings us a lot closer than if we didn’t do the camp.”
“As a group this has grown team bonding. We know more about each other. It builds team bonding and friendships,” said Bailey Gulash. “I used to be shy, but now I’m more out there and it helps my leadership skills.”