Lily DeBlasio

Features Editor

Pictured above, Varsity Cheer performing at an away football game VIA Instagram

Hammond Varsity Cheer returns this fall for a promising season. For these athletes, the Fall 2022 season brings new uniforms, new skills, and the reestablishment of a JV team. To learn more about the start of the new season, The Bear Press was able to interview Senior Captain Bella DeBlasio, Junior Captain Mimi Soumaya, and new athlete Kaleb Cave.

Last season, cheer struggled to find adequate practice space due to Hammond’s current renovations requiring the auxiliary gym to be used as a storage room. Eventually, the gym was cleared and for the second half of the season, the team had a functional (and safe) place to practice for football games and the competition season. This year however, the auxiliary gym, along with the majority of the back of the school, has been completely demolished, leaving cheer to float from location to location based on availability. 

Currently, the team rolls out mats every afternoon in the math atrium, the only available space with ceilings high enough to stunt. Both captains agreed that while the limited practice space has yet to cause a significant problem, it will soon. Captain Bella DeBlasio said “We haven’t actually gotten to competition stuff [yet], but right now we don’t have enough mats. Once we get a choreographed routine, we’re just going to have to practice on about half the size [of a regulation floor].” For reference, the size of the floor at county, regional, and state competitions is seven mats laid out together. The math atrium is only big enough to allow for four of the mats to be laid out at the same time. 

Despite the predicted setbacks due to practice space, the team is looking forward to one major addition to the team: Kaleb Cave, an elite power tumbler with eight years of advanced training. Kaleb’s tumbling experience will hopefully provide the team with an extra level of skill to impress the judges during competition. One specific skill he will bring to the mat is a full to full. As explained by the tumbler himself, a full to full is “like a backflip with a 360 twist,” done twice in a row. Despite having no experience with cheer specifically, Kaleb’s skills will be heavily incorporated into the team’s routine, making him a key asset to the performance. 

With the promise of Kaleb’s tumbling, the team is eager to see what the season will hold, both at football games and during the competition season. Captain Mimi Soumaya mentions what she is looking forward to, saying “I think everybody is looking forward to homecoming [and] definitely [competitions], crossing our fingers we make it to states.” Last year, varsity cheer advanced through counties and regionals, placing 5th in their division at states and making it further in the season than the team had in several years. 

Even with the inconsistencies in practice space, Hammond Cheer has started the season off excitedly, hopefully setting the team up for more successes throughout the season. Alongside new tumbling, the rest of the team also brings impressive skills to the mat, with the captains describing both the team’s stunts and jumps as “very strong overall”. During the fall season, cheer will continue to refine their competition routine, while also practicing stunts and cheers for Friday night football games, where they are set to cheer at every game, home and away. 

As the season progresses, don’t forget to support cheer just as they support our sports teams throughout the year. You can follow Hammond Cheer on Instagram @Hammond_Cheerleading to stay up to date on games, competitions, and new ways to encourage this impressive group of athletes.