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Sandy Journal

Alta cheer takes second in state meet

Mar 07, 2018 03:09PM ● By Ron Bevan

Alta’s cheerleading squad does a high-flying routine as part of the competition that netted them second place in the State 5A cheerleading meet. (Photo/Heather Gill)

You see them at all the different high school athletic events. And while they are an important aspect of the event, most may not realize the amount of hard work put in by the cheerleading team.

For the Alta cheerleading squad, the hard work put in behind the scenes paid off with a second-place finish in the state 5A cheerleading finals.

“This is only the second time we made it to the state championships,” Alta cheerleading coach Jordache Leiker said. “The girls worked hard this year to be able to make the happen.”

Leiker is in her first year coaching the Alta cheerleading team. She brings experience not only as a club cheerleading coach, but is also a former Alta cheerleader, having been on the team through her 2008 graduation.

Cheerleading competition involves four main techniques: stunt, dance, cheer and tumbling. To make it to the state finals, the team must be proficient in all four disciplines.

“The coolest element about cheer is all the different techniques,” Leiker said. “There is not just one thing you need to focus on. It makes the cheerleaders more well-rounded athletes.”

Alta’s 2018 cheerleading squad consists of 36 members, mostly girls but one boy as well. The team meets every morning before school to work on their routine they do for competitions, as well as hone the skills they display at the different sporting events. They pack the four different elements into a two-and-a-half-minute routine that was performed against other schools.

The team competes at different cheer events held throughout the year, then qualifies for state by competing against other schools in their region.

And while other athletes only compete in their sport for a few months, the cheerleaders are busy year-round.

“We go to all the sporting events, not just our own,” Leiker said. “We aren’t just at football and basketball, but tennis, swimming, soccer and all the other Alta events. We also appear at assemblies and other activities. We have a pretty full schedule while also trying to do our own competitions.”

Despite all the appearances the team makes throughout the year, the members can’t just focus on cheer. The team has one of the highest GPA of all teams at Alta. To stay on the cheer squad, each member has to maintain a 3.0 GPA.

“The average GPA on our team this year is 3.6, so you have to be smart and work hard to be on the team,” Leiker said.

In addition, the cheerleaders also organize, participate in and collect donations for at least five service projects each year. The team has worked with charities like Make-A-Wish, Race for the Cure, Ronald McDonald House and Worldwide Orphanages, among others.

“Sometimes we are seen as just the cheerleaders used to get the crowd into the game,” Leiker said. “And while that is something we do, it is hard to hear the typical cheerleader comments because of how hard we work to help better us in our competitions and help better others in their sports. They work just as hard behind the scenes as any other athlete. And cheer never stops. It is the only year-round sport.”