By: Isha Patel-- Eagle Staff Writer
Hip Hip Hooray! The FCHS cheerleaders have been hitting this season off with some amazing victories. They have been working extremely hard this year learning new tricks, putting together new routines, and finally putting them in action at competitions. Alongside the cheerleaders, their leader Coach Marsha Lopez has been actively working with them helping them achieve win after win.
Lopez is no novice when it comes to cheerleading. “I cheered for 4 years in high school and one year in college, and now I’ve been a cheer coach for 30 years!” she exclaimed.
It's experience that has paid off for this year's cheer squad. This brand-new cheer season has brought a winning streak for the FCHS cheerleaders with wins at every competition. “We won overall at the Big Orange Invitational at Heritage High School on September 21st. We also won our division (4A/5A) at the Cougar Classic at Pulaski County High School on October 14th,” explained Lopez.
Their biggest victory was on October 21st at regionals. “We competed at Prince George's High School for regionals this Saturday and we advanced to the second round, then placed 4th in our region,” stated varsity team captain senior Kacey Holland. “We advanced to Round 2 for the first time since 2014!” Lopez enthused.
To achieve these victories, Lopez and the cheerleaders had to take time out of their summer to start prepping early. “We practiced in Law Gym 6 days a week. We’ve been practicing and getting ready for regionals since July 27th,” said sophomore Kamari Hash.
The prep involved learning and then mastering all kinds of new tricks and stunts. “We have some really cool stunts this year. Our main one is called a lickety-split to a switch-up. We also have a very visual pyramid with three switch-ups, a flip, and a rewind in it” explained Lopez.
Practicing and competing may get stressful and tiring, but the athletes have some mental and physical strategies that get them going. “You have to keep a positive mentality and you always have to find ways to push through pain and obstacles that you may face. Physically you have to stretch, stay hydrated, and get good rest,” stated Holland. “Most definitely always stay positive no matter what goes wrong,” added Hash.
All the long practice hours were definitely worth it because the team scored such a huge win after several years, and their reaction showed that. “Oh my gosh, we all jumped up screaming, and everyone was crying some tears of joy. And it was so exciting” exclaimed Hash. “Everybody was so proud of each other. Our coach was also proud of us,” she added.
This team has been able to achieve these amazing milestones from the mix of lifelong cheerleaders and newcomers.
Hash has been cheering since elementary school and plans to continue. “I have always wanted to be a cheerleader, and I’ve been cheering since I was in the 2nd grade,” said Hash. “I do want to continue cheering after high school because I feel I’ve been cheering for so long. I’ve cheered all throughout middle school and will continue all throughout high school.”
On the other hand, Holland found out later that cheerleading was something she wanted to do. “I’ve been cheering for 4 years. I didn’t plan on cheering but as soon as I started attending cheer competitions I knew I wanted to be a cheerleader,” stated Holland.
To celebrate this victory Lopez treated the girls with one of her traditional recipes and a little bit of crazy fun. “Coach made us Oreo pudding and also let us dye her hair,” stated Holland.
Little things like this have made a strong bond between Lopez and the girls. They feel like Lopez has helped them to reach this point. “Even if I continue cheering outside of this school, like if I cheer in college, I will always think of her and she’ll always be my coach,” said Hash. “I love her so much and I appreciate her for pushing us even when we feel like things are impossible. We couldn’t do this without her,” Holland added.
Lopez feels the same way towards the girls; she feels that they progressed a lot, and will continue to in later life. “They have learned what it means to work hard for something, how to be a good teammate, great time management, grit, responsibility, and the importance of community service, all of which will serve them well in life."