Investigating an Ancient Cheer Tradition


Photo by: Fatima Zaidi

The cheerleaders prepare for their halftime performance

 Every football season, each cheerleader is assigned to a senior football player and is expected to buy him a gift before some of the games, but both the cheer and football teams see problems in this tradition.

“We usually get them their favorite candy and gatorade…before the big games, like the first game or senior night,” said senior cheer captain Catie Abbot.

She also stated that they make posters to hang up in front of the locker rooms before the homecoming game.

Photo: The cheerleaders do pushups at the homecoming game in celebration of a touchdown.
The cheerleaders do pushups at the homecoming game in celebration of a touchdown.

This tradition has been upheld by the senior cheerleaders for several years, yet many of them admit that it has become more of a habit rather than something the cheerleaders actually want to do.

“It’s not really mandatory, but it’s been a tradition for a while. So everyone just does it,” said Abbot.

The cheerleaders are responsible for contacting their assigned football player and asking them about their favorite candy and gatorade flavor, which was often an uncomfortable encounter for both parties.

“It’s especially weird when [cheerleaders] are freshmen and we don’t know them. I’m grateful, but it’s just awkward,” said Powers.

Powers believes that most of the football players feel the same way.

Former cheerleader and senior, Leah Turano, can also relate.

“It almost felt like no one really wanted to do it. Both the football players and cheerleaders felt awkward about the whole thing,” said Turano.

Even the football players, who are getting their favorite snacks before big games, often feel indifferent about receiving the gifts.

“I think it’s okay… I really don’t think it’s needed. I am indifferent about it,” said Powers.

Though several cheerleaders and football players seem to be uninterested with the whole ordeal, there are some cheerleaders who are committed to making sure this tradition lasts.

Hiller Cheer places second in their first competition of the year. (photo from @hillerathletics instagram)

Senior cheer captain Elizabeth Karp stated that she enjoys supporting the football team, but feels that it’s a bit strange that cheer is the only varsity sport that does something like this for another varsity sport.

“I’m all about keeping up tradition to an extent, but people just assume this is the cheerleaders’ job. We are a sport as well,” said Karp.

On top of cheering at the football games and competing in different competitions throughout the season, the cheerleaders also put their time and money into these little things to show their support for the football team, a unique thing for a varsity sport to do.

Karp, along with several others, think that it would be nice if the kindness was reciprocated.

“I just wish that more varsity sports would show this kind of support to other teams,” said Karp.

Though this tradition has been going on for over 10 years, many students are unaware of all that the cheerleaders do. Seniors Amanda Mak and Alex Lazarov were surprised to hear that the cheerleaders spend their own money to get the football players candy and Gatorade, as well as make them posters.

“It seems outdated,” said Mak.