Spirit squads

Ali Randazzo, web staff

Imagine Friday night football games without the traditional performances from Kirkwood’s pommies or cheerleaders. Elementary school girls would have no one to obsess over, dads would have no one to ignore and wish the game would start again and no one would dance to the band’s music. According to Jennifer Siegel, JV pom coach, and Jessica Williams, varsity cheer coach, the two iconic KHS spirit squads have had successful and busy 2013-2014 seasons due to the team’s chemistry, competitive-edge and support from the community.

“Hard work, dedication, clear goals and strong leadership makes a great team. A great team equals a great season,” Siegel said.

Pommies and cheerleaders are not only challenged physically, but also mentally. According to Williams, cheer requires trust; if cheerleaders cannot trust each other to catch them when they fall (both literally, and theoretically), then the team is unable to improve.

“The cheerleaders have to work together in a way that is almost indescribable. This a sport that is completely, and 100 percent built on trust. There is no room for individualism in cheerleading. As long as the athletes do everything in their power to remain intact as one cohesive unit, the team will be great,” Williams said.

Throughout the season, the JV poms attended three competitions, while varsity attended two. The first competition for both teams was at the week-long Universal Dance Association camp in Warrensburg, Mo. JV was awarded first place in the JV Pom category, and varsity received second in varsity Pom and varsity Kick categories. The second competition that JV competed in was at the Lindbergh Invitational in December and earned fourth in Pom. The last competition for both teams was the St. Charles Classic in January. The JV squad received 10th in JV Pom, while varsity received second in both varsity Pom and varsity Kick.

“For our last competition, [the varsity pommies] learned both dances only weeks before the competition and demonstrated their best performances. Their showmanship was fantastic and their presence on the floor demanded the judges’ attention. The only improvement needed is to go back next year and earn first place,” Katie Bekebrede, varsity assistant coach, said.

Bekebrede was new to the poms program this season, she recalls the excited anticipation of the school and community leading up to the holiday and its multiple festivities. Varsity cheerleaders and pommies dedicated fall practices to Turkey Day preparations that require multiple morning practices and extended rehearsals for both teams. According to Williams, all of the hard work pays off when showcasing their performance to the community.

“[Preparing for Turkey Day requires] hours upon hours of practice. Typically, we practice 10 to 13 hours per week, the closer we get to performance day. It is a lot more demanding and tedious than people realize. Having to perfectly synchronize 20 plus individuals takes a lot of concentration, patience and repetitiveness,” Williams said.

From the first day Bekebrede walked into the school, she remembers automatically feeling included in the Kirkwood poms program. Siegel and Williams sacrifice time with their families in order to coach their teams because they know that they will be positively influencing the lives of their athletes. To them, that is the greatest reward a coach can receive.

“So many of them use cheer as their outlet and means to escape what is wrong in their world. It is the one place where they can go, for just a few short hours, and forget about their bad day. Knowing that I have created an environment of learning, excitement and comfort that really makes a difference in their lives. That realization will change anyone,” Williams said.