CHURUBUSCO – Overcoming some obstacles, the Churubusco cheer team competed in its first competition in three years on Nov. 4., placing 18th among the participants.

The competition took place at New Castle High School, which has the largest high school in the nation (capacity 9,325).

The Lady Eagles competed in the timeout division, which consists of cheerleaders pumping up the crowd like they do during breaks at basketball games.

“To be competitive in the other division, you need half your team to tumble and do very difficult types of dance. We don’t have that kind of skill being a small school, so we competed in the timeout division,” said nine-year coach Melissa Shearer said.

The Eagles cheer team placed 18th out of 23 teams. Shearer believes they could have performed better if the Eagles didn’t run into a series of unfortunate events leading up to the championship.

“We had some havoc leading up to the event. We had a girl out with a concussion and two others could not make it,” said Shearer.

“We only had 14 compete, and the result was 18th place. I thought the result was good considering what we went through.”

They Eagles were to have some competition experience before the state finals, but those plans fell apart.

“We were wanting to compete at (the University of) Saint Francis a few weeks before the state competition, but the flu went around on our team, so we could not participate,” said Shearer.

Shearer hoped that the Eagles would perform better, but she’s proud of the girls for fighting on through the battle.

“It’s not as great as we hoped for. But we did well for it being our first time in a long time. Most of them have never competed before, so we’ll take what we got. It was a rebuilding type experience and we’ll move on,” said Shearer.

Cheerleading is a year-round sport with only one week off in the summer.

“There is a stigma that cheerleading isn’t as difficult as the sport really is, and both Shearer and the cheer team is aware of the perception.

“People perceive cheerleading that it’s about putting on a skirt and looking cute and jumping around,” said Shearer.

“That’s the worst misconception ever. It takes a lot of strength and ability to lift each other. You have to deal with so much mental challenges, and they deal with many thinking that cheerleading is easy. It is not.”

Shearer says her team is as passionate as any.

“The passion that drives these girls is team spirit. I believe kids are less motivated today, so it’s about having school spirit within the student body and fans. But cheerleading is demanding, it’s just like any other sport. They have to put in the time for conditioning and practice. Then cheerleading is also about behind a part of a team, and treat it as it should be.”

Shearer wants to make it clear to the community that the cheer team is ready to provide a helping hand for those who need it.

“The cheerleaders would like to be more involved,” said Shearer. “We’re ready to be there for the school and the community. They’re always here to give a helping hand. We are grateful for any opportunity to help. We are always open in hearing any suggestions of how we can get involved.”