Tide cheer teams win big
Published 8:37 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The Picayune cheer teams have been wildly successful this fall and their hard work culminated this past Saturday at Ocean Springs High School with a couple of state titles. The Picayune Junior High School cheer team captured the Small Junior High State Championship while Picayune Memorial High School’s junior varsity cheerleaders took home the Junior Varsity State Championship in the MHSAA State Cheer Competition; both teams are coached by Jessica Smith and Heidi Arthur.
Smith explained how much work goes into winning a state championship.
“We start preparing for competition in July. We work all the way up to November for competition. The junior varsity girls practice five days a week in the mornings and junior high varies between two and three days a week after school. They have worked super hard and we’ve been to two other competitions in preparation for state,” Smith said. “We went to Deep South State Fair in October located in Jackson and then we went to Cheer for Hope in Biloxi Nov. 7. And they actually won the championships at Cheer for Hope as well.”
Coach Smith, an alumna of PMHS, cheered for six years at Picayune from junior high all the way up to varsity and then for Pearl River Community College. Both coach Smith and coach Arthur started preparing the girls for cheer in January. Milli Stewart, a freshman captain for the junior varsity team, said that the practices were tough, but worth the hard work. Tryouts were held in January and the team started conditioning immediately. The team started actual competition routine practice in July.
“Conditioning was difficult because we were building up our endurance. After we would do our competition routine, we would have to run around the football stadium. Other practices, when, we were just conditioning, we would have to run around the football stadium and around the school. It was difficult, but we got through it,” Stewart said.
All the practices and time the girls put in has formed a strong bond that permeates the entire team.
“We are very, very close friends. We spend every single day together. We spend every single morning together, weekends, weekdays preparing for cheer and then preparing for competitions—we have a really strong bond on our team,” Stewart said.
The junior varsity team has been cheering together, with the exception of a couple of members, since seventh grade and been coached the entire time by Arthur and Smith, Smith said.
The closeness of the junior varsity team extends into the junior high team. Both teams support each other and cheer each other on. Coach Smith and coach Arthur pair up each junior varsity member with a junior high member as sisters.
“The junior high team, they are our little sisters. I have a little sister and Milli has a little sister. We roomed with our little sisters for camp,” freshman Sierra Delancey, a junior varsity captain, said.
Smith said both teams went to cheer camp at USM in June, which was put on by the National Cheerleader Association. The girls stayed overnight at the camp for three nights and four days. Smith said it was one of the most rewarding experiences she’s had because it gave the girls an opportunity to get to know each other better and bond.
“They have shown a ton of dedication and work ethic. They are all about the team. We’re very, very proud. They’ve represented our district very well,” Smith said.