As COVID-related uncertainties about the foreseeable futures of the football and basketball teams rage on, Warde cheer has made adjustments to keep their team active.
Traditionally, Warde cheerleaders performed at football games through the fall season and basketball games during the winter season. With COVID ramping up in Fairfield again, the district has placed a 100 person limitation on football games, preventing the cheerleaders from performing at them. As for the basketball season, it is undetermined whether the cheer team will be permitted to perform at the games.
As performance opportunities decrease, the cheer practices have yet to cease. The team, along with all the other fall sports, have made massive adjustments to their practices in order to meet the strict requirements released by the district to implement social distancing.
“We have to wear masks the entire practice, we have to fill out the athletic COVID form, and, during the short period we were allowed to stunt, we had to sanitize our hands after,” explained Coach Coco Coletti.
The number of practices has also been reduced.
“We practice twice a week,” said Coletti. “Last year we practiced three times a week, in addition to a weekly tumbling class.”
Although there are fewer practices and football game performances prohibited, the cheerleaders have found alternative ways to express their talent throughout both the fall and winter seasons. As for the fall season, “We will be cheering at soccer games,” said Julia Clegg, member of Warde Cheer.
The cheer team typically would spend the winter season practicing for and partaking in competitions, as well as performing at basketball games. With the status of the basketball season still up in the air, Warde cheer is relying on the competition season to take place. Statewide social distancing requirements have made in person competitions next to impossible because competitions call for full teams to appear in one place, from a variety of schools, traveling from all over the state. In replacement of physical competitions, the move is now to compete virtually.
“We are getting ready for a virtual competition,” Coletti said. “There may be more coming, I’d be surprised if there are more than three.”
In comparison to the weekend competitions occurring from January to March in past years, Warde Cheer’s season has faced significant loss due to COVID. The virtual competitions are the only way they can compete currently, and even this solution carries problems.
“There are still many unknowns about how the virtual competition will be conducted, making it challenging to prepare for the winter season,” Clegg said.
The rates of positive COVID tests have been slowly increasing in Fairfield over the past two months, but the virus has a tendency to ebb and flow. Warde Cheer, and the rest of the fall and winter sports, can only hope that the virus rates begin to decline again. Removal of the restrictions on sports activities across the district is the only way cheer will feel any sense of a traditional competition season this year.