Student athletes are often commended for their hard work and commitment, but no one seems to recognize the work put in to play a sport for a private team or studio.
“I prefer the competitive [private team] over school [team] because it’s a longer season, and I like that we compete more and don’t have to cheer for football or basketball. I also like being with different people of different ages instead of just people from your school,” Samantha Maznaritz (10) said.
It’s a lot easier to join a school team than it is to find a private studio to compete with, but these girls found a home at Midwest Elite in Dyer, Ind.
“I originally joined because it was so close to my house, but now I just really enjoy the people I’ve met there,” Elysia Ray (10) said.
One difference between cheering for a school team and cheering for a private studio is the dynamic of the competitions.
“School competitions are way smaller and have less judges, lights and quieter music. I love competitions for competitive cheer because it’s a huge stage and there are so many more people and teams to go against and see. We also compete on a spring floor versus a dead floor like school cheerleaders,” Maznaritz said.
Midwest Elite starts their competition season in late May where each team has two days of practice a week. Competitions start in October and end in early May.
“We have seven regular season teams and two half season teams with 98 total athletes, and our competitions are split into categories based on skill level, age and the size of your team,” Kylie Petee (10)
Even though they don’t go to the same school, cheering and competing together has created bond between these cheerleaders. Most team bonding happens at practice, but at the beginning of the season some of the parents organize team bonding events.
“The teams are constantly supportive of all the Midwest Elite teams. The environment is very welcoming. I was new and accepted by everyone immediately. I had previously been a dancer and everyone was super helpful with my learning stage of getting into cheer,” Petee said.
Despite their differences in age, teams and personalities, the cheerleaders at Midwest Elite consider themselves one big family.
“We fight sometimes but that’s because we’re family and that’s kind of what families do. Overall, we have a good time and love each other regardless,” Ray said.