S. Carroll cheerleading has new twist

January 22, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

No, it wasn't a mirage or a strange dream.

That really was South Carroll's 6-foot, 220-pound defensive lineman Josh Swisher in a cheerleading uniform Tuesday night at Westminster, going through the chants and doing the stunts with the other 17 Cavaliers varsity cheerleaders.

Swisher was the first boy to come out for cheerleading in the 28-year history of South Carroll when he signed up for the winter season last November, after his junior football campaign.

"I like to be different," said Swisher. "I'm kind of crazy and just decided to do it. I thought I was going to be the only one, but then Al Cole came out."

Swisher said that South Carroll football coach Gene Brown kids him about it and a few of the other students were a little surprised. But nobody gave him much grief.

"I'm bigger than most of them, and nobody wants to get beat up by a cheerleader," he said with a laugh. "Now, they're cool with it."

These are special days for the South Carroll cheerleaders.

The boys have arrived and the entire squad is preparing for the Maryland cheerleading championships at the Fifth Regiment Armory Feb. 4 in Baltimore.

The chance to be recognized as one of the best in the state has pumped new enthusiasm into a group of students who believe they have been overlooked at times.

"A lot of people who don't know anything about what we do say we're dizzy and don't give us a chance to show our talents at games," said senior Jessie Volk. "We don't really get the recognition and support the cheerleaders at Damascus get. Over there, the fans really get into the spirit of cheering with their cheerleaders for football and basketball."

Volk said she and her squad members do get "a chance to strut our stuff" at least twice a year at the fall and winter pep rallies.

The state championships will provide the biggest forum these 18 cheerleaders have had to show exactly how good they are at the 100 different chants, motions and stunts in their routine.

Volk has been working hard with Michelle Childs and Melissa Mullinix to perfect a dance routine for the competition and is hoping for the best.

"I've never been to competition before and don't know what to expect. I do know we'll be ready to do our best," said Volk.

It is the first time South Carroll has gone to a cheerleading competition in three years. Lisa Carnes, in her fourth year as the head cheerleaders coach at South Carroll, said she is asked every year by the girls to enter some kind of competition.

"Every year I assess what we have and if it is a wise decision to enter or not," said Carnes, who was a cheerleader for the Cavaliers in the 1970s for the only coach (Nancy Parker) the school had before her. "We'll try it this year. We did pretty good three years ago in the Eastern Cheerleaders Association competition at Old Mill. We were asked back for the second round, but we weren't allowed to compete because it was a Sunday [a Carroll County rule prevents competition on Sunday]."

Carnes said cheerleading is long past the days when girls learned a few cheers and then just showed up for games.

"You need more athletic ability these days. You need to be precise and always ready to learn new material," said Carnes. "Cheerleading is now like fashion, changing routines every year. We practice six hours a week, try to recognize six sports [football, boys and girls basketball, wrestling and boys and girls soccer], and do things like decorating the lockers for players on the teams before big games."

Jaime Moyer, who was an All-Metro goalkeeper in field hockey last fall, will attest to the need for being in shape to be a cheerleader.

"It's not as easy as everybody thinks," she said. "I thought I was in shape until I went out for cheerleader last winter. I was so sore after practice. I used muscles I didn't even realize I had."

The other members of the South Carroll squad are Erin Harmon, Stephanie Linton, Katie Crowe, Jennifer Pickett, Charlene Colison, Kelli Crown, Angela Gotschall, Shannon Sullivan, Laura Fortenbaugh, Jenn Truncer, Kit Decker and Nicole Roemer.

Throughout past years, Carnes said the South Carroll cheerleaders have lived by high standards set by Parker.

"She was a strong disciplinarian," said Carnes. "She taught girls to never compromise your standards, maintain a good image and not wear a lot of makeup."

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