More Than Just Pom Poms or Smiles: JV, Varsity Cheerleaders Place Second in OIAs


Timothy Won

Other schools MHS went up against at OIAs included Moanalua, Kalani, Campbell, Leleihua, Farrington, and Aiea. The top 10 qualifiers will move on to States.

Taylor Ann Ono

After months of preparation (beginning from July), various injuries (from sprains to concussions), multiple colds and about a dozen different routines, the JV and Varsity cheerleading teams competed in OIA Championships on Oct. 28, with the Varsity and JV teams taking second place. OIAs were held at Moanalua High School gym, and included multiple high school cheer teams. Although cheer doesn’t involve throwing a football or hitting a home run, it is a sport just the same, and involves similar characteristics like teamwork and sacrifice. The bond that forms between the team, and the insight that individuals may gain make unforgettable memories.

“It’s made me an outgoing person, I used to be shy, but now I’m so much more confident, like I’m a friendly person now. A lot of people know me because I’m a cheerleader, so it just really puts me out there, and it makes me happy,” said Varsity Cheerleader Sophomore Zoë Solis.

Splits, flips and routines are not the only aspects of cheer. Just like other sports, work and determination are essential to the success of the team. “Before I cheered, I used to think of the peppy cheerleader, but when I really got into it, it changed my whole perspective. Just the aspect of it and how it takes really a lot of physical training, emotional training, all of that, there’s so many factors that get put into cheerleading. A lot of people think what we do is not hard. But my point of view is, other sports, they get to throw balls, we have to throw actual people,” said Varsity Cheerleader Sophomore Jeiley Lalau. “No one’s out to get each other, we’re not just like, ‘Oh, she’s not as good as me,’ it’s more like, ‘Oh, she’s on the team, she’s here with me, so she can help me,’ or ‘I see her working hard, I’m going to do the same.’ We gain energy off of each other, and that’s especially what I love about it.” Solis added, “I guess people are like, ‘Oh, it’s just pom poms,’ and ‘They cheer for football games,’ but competitive cheer is a lot of work and dedication. You have to have your priority in school, and you have to be dedicated. You can’t give up.”

Also like any other sport, the girls have a very close team bond. “I like it because it’s something different, and I continue to like it because it’s kind of brought the best out of me, the best and the worst I would say I’ve made a lot of close friends from it, so it’s a really good experience,” said Lalau. “We all just like each other for who we are instead of what we do. It’s not like whoever’s the best or whoever has the best tumbling is the most popular. I feel like we all just share a common bond with each other so it’s equal. But there’s still certain things that make a person stand out that we like them especially for.”

A lot of mental and physical preparation goes into the competitions. “Every week we’ve changed the routine, so from the very beginning of pre-season, up to now, each one of our routines has been different. We have to continuously clean the routines and make it harder to be able to compete with the best of the best. Yes, you want to win, but I don’t teach them to compete to win, their only competitor is themselves,” said JV and Varsity Cheer Coach Renesha Kierstedt. “We never put our team out there to fail, we do push them, we push them beyond their limits, so sometimes they may doubt themselves. I want the team to believe in themselves as much as their coaches.”

This competition meant a lot to the cheer team and coach because the next step is States. “When it comes to cheerleading, we guide ourselves the whole season to make sure that we meet certain goals. Pre-season was one based upon a score, West was another and then now OIAs. Varsity wants to be able to compete at States, JV wants to be able to perform,” said Kierstedt. “It’s always important to be able to continue the legacy.” Solis added, “This is my first year as a high school cheerleader so it’s very nerve-racking. I’m going against my best friends from all different types of schools so it’s really hard and a lot of pressure.”

No matter the outcome of any competition, cheer is a sport that shapes the team and the coaches into who they are. “I like to be involved with the individual girl’s lives, I like to see them grow up. Some of them have been with me for four years, we see them from the very beginning until they’re ready to go off to college. Being able to have a group of girls that keeps me young, and being able to influence them in a positive way and seeing them grow and succeed. Somebody being that positive influence in their life, that kind of pushes us as coaches,” said Kierstedt.

One of the most important lessons that they learn is being self-confident. “It gives me confidence and it teaches me more than just how to tumble
and cheer, it teaches me how to trust and be involved,” said Solis. “We
have a close team bond and our team altogether is really supportive, they’re supportive in school, they’re supportive in cheer. They’re just helpful and
so loving, I appreciate that a lot.” Lalau added, “It’s taught me to have confidence in myself, I think that’s the main lesson. It takes a lot of guts to cheer, especially at games when you’re in front of everybody. You get used to it, but the first game I was kind of scared. Yelling, having your voice crack, that’s something scary to do in front of the whole school but you just have to put yourself out there.”

The team plans on strengthening their bond even more, and improving on their skills for next year, when most of them plan on trying out again.