Pump It Up With the AMHS Cheer Team

The AMHS Cheer Team continues fighting for victory despite this year’s struggles: featuring a team roster, captain interview, and some important notes for the student body.

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Pyramid stunting at a game (Flyers, left to right: Disha Qanungo, Chandler Grace Ghegan, Summer DeSouza)

It can be hard to maintain school spirit when the events and activities that typically shape the Magnet experience are being set aside in an effort to maintain social distancing. This year, every aspect of our experience has been adjusted; from pep rallies to football games to everyday classes, nothing is the same as it was in previous years. And yet, despite all of this change, the Academic Magnet High School Varsity Cheerleading Team has stood strong in their mission to support our other Raptor sports teams and inspire school spirit in all of us.

 

Team Roster

Disha Qanungo (12, co-captain)
Emma Martin (12, co-captain)
Emily Griffin (12)
Anna Leigh Tangeman (11)
Emily Weber (11)
Peighton White (11)
Charlotte Adragna (10)
Summer DeSouza (10)
Chandler Grace Ghegan (10)
Annie Griffin (10)
Elin Herndon (10)
Katie Jones (10)
Radhika Pandey (10)
Ella Sanders (10)

 

Competition Season in the Time of COVID

In the words of AMHS cheer co-captain Disha Qanungo, “COVID had us all whack.” Captains and coaches were left with the challenge of teaching and explaining cheers through camera alone, as online-only practices extended until July. Shortly before school resumed, the team was finally able to meet in-person, with precautions taken to ensure the health of each participant.
One challenge the team faced was the need to wear masks during stunting and cheering, which can affect your ability to breathe or see during tumbling and stunting. Another major setback was the inability to attend UCA summer camp, an annual tradition that is usually one of the best memories an AMHS cheerleader makes. Because of these challenges, the team has been left with barely any time to bond outside of the sport. As Disha describes, the bond that the team currently has was created “through mutual pain and fear.” Yet, through long practices and basketball games, the team has become closer over time. In the words of sophomore cheerleader Elin Herndon, “We are a cheer family. Disha is our mother.”

We are a cheer family. Disha is our mother.”

— Elin Herndon

Our AMHS cheerleaders attended practice diligently 3 or 4 days each week, working hard to develop and perfect a routine. And, through hard work and determination, the team was able to make significant progress in improving their skills! The impossible became possible as stunt groups began executing extended libs for the first time—a stunt in which bases lock their arms and extend the flyer into the air on one leg. Another skill that has always eluded the team is tumbling; in years past, the team was never able to have a full tumbling section as a part of the routine. But this year, the team was finally able to execute a full running tumbling section! The team participated in competitions at West Ashley High School and Ashley Ridge High School, winning first place and third place respectively.

 

Interview
To gather more information, I interviewed the team’s co-captain, Disha Qanungo.

Which of the team’s accomplishments this year are you most proud of?
I am literally so proud of the girls for pushing us to all get extension libs, especially Summer because she had never flown before July. I am overjoyed that the girls are getting more and harder tumbling, and I know with wolfpack next year more girls will have some. I am most proud of our team completely redoing our pyramid a day before our competition. Little Bean got a concussion so we had to cut out a major part of the routine and learn a completely new pyramid. While learning that pyramid, Josie hurt her thumb, so we were all flying by the seat of our pants with that and somehow we managed to pull it off.

What has been the hardest part of cheering this year?
Corona. It has been so difficult to manage everything around the restrictions. We basically lost three months of practice which set us back. Summer had never flown before and I hadn’t flown in a year (which I phat suck at because as Conolly will oh so lovingly remind me, I fell twice freshmen year during our pep rally performance), so getting us used to flying with lowkey kinda advanced stunts was hard. It has also made team bonding that much more harder. We also lost three people this year which makes stunting a pain because we have two extra girls and people are having to be put in positions that they don’t normally do. I had so many cool plans for the year, but they all got shot down because of Corona…big sad.

What do you see in the team’s future, after you leave?
Oh frickity frackity, I don’t want to think about that. I’m gonna cry. I love these girls and this team so much. I can only hope for the best. I know that they are going to have even more advanced stunts and more tumbling. Little Bean is going to do a magnificent job leading them next year. She can be meek at times, but she knows how to be aggressive and will whip them into shape. Peighton will teach them how to “shake what their mama gave them” because boy do they need it (I say that in the most loving way possible), and Anna Leigh is the master of *spice* (*insert hand flick*), she will keep them on their toes and keep them laughing. With the dedication and mentality that these girls have, I really do believe that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to.

With the dedication and mentality that these girls have, I really do believe that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to.”

— Disha Qanungo

 

Final Words From Disha Qanungo
Here is what the AMHS Cheer Team would like the student body to know:

We do compete. It is a sport. We don’t just dance around and cheer. It is pain, sweat, blood, and a whole lot of tears. If you do not think cheer is a sport, I would love to see you standing on people’s hands and then being thrown 10 feet in the air.”

— Disha Qanungo

  • We miss having our awesome students at the games. It is very much not hype and kinda sad, but we miss you.
  • OH MY GOSH STOP SPEEDING UP THE CHEERS. BRUVS DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO JUMP STEP CLAP AND MOVE TO THE WORDS WHEN YOU DIRTBAGS ARE GOING AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT. Like hugs and kisses, love you mean it but please stop speeding up the cheer and follow our pace, thank you <3.
  • We appreciate you guys asking us before starting one of our chants (grunt sizzle, pump it up, four more, etc.)
  • Speaking of Pump it up, it goes freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, dirty birds (if they are there), freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, raptors. Please stop skipping over the poor freshmen, they’ll get it once you give them the chance…I hope.
  • We do compete. It is a sport. We don’t just dance around and cheer. It is pain, sweat, blood, and a whole lot of tears. If you do not think cheer is a sport, I would love to see you standing on people’s hands and then being thrown 10 feet in the air.