MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT)- Friday nights are special in Alabama. There’s something overwhelming about the atmosphere at a high school football game. The teams, the pageantry, the close-knitness of communities; one of the biggest parts of that “something” is the cheerleaders. “They try so hard to bring the energy that they have to the other kids,” says Shane Martin, co-head coach of the Mountain Brook High School cheerleading squad. ”They want that energy to rub off on those kids, and of course, that’s the magic trick.” His team does it through a variety of school spirit-building measures. They make signs for the players on game days, appear at community events, and organize spirit dress up days for the high school. “We’re not just standing on the sideline with pom-poms and cute smiles. There’s a lot of work in it,” says Holly Martin, Shane’s wife and co-head coach.
Cheerleaders have to continually fight the “it’s not a sport” battle. “Throwing your body end over end is an athletic activity, it’s not something that just comes with ease,” explains Holly Martin. Cheerleaders suffer a variety of wrist, knee, and ankle injuries. That’s not even taking into account the falls that sometimes happen. “We’re tired,” says senior MBHS cheerleader Virginia Jordan with a laugh. ”We actually work a lot more than people think we do, but sometimes people give us credit.”
Of course, there are material rewards with being a part of any team. The MBHS squad competes for trophies during the summer before turning their focus to the barrage of upcoming fall sports. The trophies and ribbons aren’t what make the grind worthwhile, however. “We have so much fun with the girls we cheer with, that’s what makes it so awesome,” says Jordan. Martin reminisces on her own high school cheerleading days. “I just remember the great bond we had with each other,” she says. ”You know, you get to know the other students in your class and you get to know them well, but not the same way you do with your cheerleading squad.”