Gymnastics to Gymnasium; Cate Peters

Lilly Anderson, Writer

Her hands shake as her mom parks the family car at St. Gerard Majella on a rainy Friday night. With her mother and sister in the car, Cate Peters, freshman, opens the letter from the cheer coaches. Her stomach tightens and her breath becomes faster as she pulls out the piece of paper that holds the fate of her next year. With a hopeful heart and butterfly-filled stomach, she reads: “CONGRATULATIONS on earning a spot on the 2018-2019 Varsity Cheerleading Squad.” A high pitch scream comes from her mom, her sister wraps her arms around Cate and excitement fills the car.

“I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was 5 years old,” Peters said. “I thought trying out for cheer that I’d have enough experience to make the team.” Peters said.

Peters was shooting to make the Freshmen team and was pleasantly surprised to find out she made JV. Gymnastics was her most important time commitment, until she made varsity cheer for the 2018-2019 season.

“At first when I was on JV [cheer], it wasn’t that hard to manage my time. Now that I’m on Varsity, it’s going to be harder so I decided to stop doing gymnastics so I could be fully committed to cheer.” Peters said. “That was a really difficult decision today because I wouldn’t be who I am without gymnastics.”  

“I think that at this point, it’s time to start a new chapter and be able to focus on something I think I could excel at.” 

Peters was a level eight trampolinist and a three time state champion, and was one of six freshmen to make it on the 2017-2018 JV squad. She is one of 4 sophomores to be on the 2018-2019 Varsity squad. 

“I’m really nervous about [being on Varsity]. There are a lot of upperclassmen and it’s going to be a huge commitment juggling [cheer] and school.” Peters said. “But I am really excited because it’s a great opportunity for me to be able to work harder at something I truly love to do.”

According to Julia Frankel, freshman, she’s greatful she and Peters have been together through cheer. They were on JV together last year and have gotten closer because of it.

“I am a base, so whenever Cate flew with me, she always had a smile on her face while cheering,” Frankel said. “That always made me happier. Cate is always happy and such a team player who’s willing to make things happen for the team. “[Cheer] has made my friendship with Cate much stronger.” Frankel said. “Stunting specifically takes a lot of trust, so we’ve grown a lot as friends.”

While Peters loves cheer, there are major dangers to the sport. High school cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years.

“One of the major downsides of cheer and this past season was when I got a concussion during a football game.” Peters said.  “[The injury] was really hard. I was out of all physical activities for a couple of weeks. The injury was something that made me question whether being a flyer and stunting was worth it.”

While cheer is an important priority in Peters’ life, she has other activites she participates in at KHS. Peters has done percussion in band since 5th grade and started her freshman year off in the Kirkwood High School’s drumline.

“I will be doing drumline in marching band,” said Peters. “I know that it’s another commitment that I have to make, and I’ll have to commit to [cheer and band] separately.”

On Friday nights at the Varsity games, the cheerleaders cheer on the sidelines almost the entire game, but marching band and pommies take over the halftime show. Peters is the first varsity cheerleader who has also been on drumline.

“I am going to be juggling a lot between them but I know they’re both things I am passionate about and activities I enjoy doing.”

Cate isn’t the only person in her family who is a gymnast. Several family members, including her mother and her younger sister, also have gymnastics experiance.

“Growing up, I did gymnastics as well. One of the most interesting elements of being a mother is watching how your children grow to love different and even similar things to you.” Sherry Peters, Cate’s mom said. “Cate and her sister, Lauren, have both done gym since they were kids. Our family is shaped around gymnastics.”

“[Cate’s] life has gotten really busy with cheer and quitting gym was a big decision for her to make, yet she is still looking on the bright side of it all.” Peters’ mom said. “I am so excited about [cheer] for Cate. Just watching her cheer reminds me of how proud I am. I am happy to see her so happy with what she does.”


Cate Peters is going to enter in her sophomore year at Kirkwood High School with pride and excitement to what it will hold. “I’m hoping [with this next year and season] to be able to get better at certain skills and things that I’m learning and hopefully I can grow the bonds I already have with my coaches and teammates. “I’m going to work really hard for this. I mean, believe you can do it and you’re halfway there.”