Edina’s Competitive Cheer Team

Competitive cheerleading is growing in Edina.
Edina's competitive cheerleaders consistently finish in the top 10 at the National Cheerleading Competition each February. Photo courtesy Linda J. Soranno.

While most people would consider two and a half minutes an insignificant amount of time, nothing could be further from the truth for the Edina competitive cheerleading team. A frenetic 150-second routine consists of tumbling, passing, running, jumping, stunts and a one-minute cheer. This routine is the culmination of many months of practice that require a commitment of four to five days a week and an enormous amount of synchronicity and teamwork, all while facing the risk of injuries.
The cheerleaders’ pyramid often requires 40 to 50 hours of practice to perfect. And regardless of any unexpected falls or injuries that may occur during their routine, the girls are expected to always have smiles on their faces.
“These girls are very tough,” medium varsity team head coach Jackie Roario says. “They get knocked around and get right back up, because they’re all about the team. They’re real athletes—strength conditioning, muscle memory, and it’s all about perfecting the same skill at the same time every single time with the rest of the team.”
The National High School Cheerleading Championship began in 1980. Every February, the National Cheerleading Competition is televised nationally from Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Teams from Edina consistently finish in the top 10 nationwide, and placed fifth in both 2009 and 2010.
“Two years ago was my first year on the team and we made it to finals,” says Darien Woller, a junior at Edina High School. “Going off that mat and knowing that we had worked so hard for nine months on this routine felt very rewarding.”
Edina boasts four competitive cheerleading squads—middle school, junior varsity and two varsity teams. The green varsity team, with 16 members (with three alternates), is the medium division, while the white varsity team, consisting of 20 members (with three alternates), is the large division. All told, the varsity teams boast 41 cheerleaders (including five alternates) in grades seven through 12, with approximately 50 waiting in the wings on the middle school and junior varsity teams.
There are two different types of cheerleading: sideline and competitive. Sideline cheerleaders perform at football games in the fall, and in the winter they train for competitive. “Football games are great community builders,” says 10th-grader Anna Cerf.
Program director/spirit squad coordinator Jenn Carter knows that the growth of Edina Competitive Cheerleading didn’t happen overnight. “Building a legacy and being able to compete at a national level, over time has helped us evolve into who we are. Watching us grow from one team to four teams, to about 90 people in total, has been an amazing thing to be a part of.”
While competitive cheerleading requires a huge time commitment, “we have found that students who are involved in extracurricular activities such as cheerleading do better in school, because there is a higher level of engagement,” says Carter. Many of Edina’s competitive cheerleaders have gone on to cheer in college.
Any good team owes its success to teamwork, and teamwork in competitive cheerleading is particularly crucial. “Competitive cheerleading isn’t an individual sport, where you can go off and practice or focus on it by yourself,” junior Sigrid Brost says. “We all need each other to help hit the mark on the routine. It brings in the value of being able to work with others and get along with them.”
That teamwork also encourages life-long relationships. “I like competitive cheerleading because that sense of ‘family’ with your teammates becomes very strong,” says senior Sydney Mamus. “You spend so much time with these people, travel with them, and become best friends.  I just love them all."