Football run-throughs offer bonding opportunities, life lessons for cheerleaders

Maddie Jewett, Features Editor

The overwhelming aroma of paint wafts through the halls as all the students file out of school.
In the Commons, cheerleaders are crouched on the ground, painting motivational signs for the athletes.
They are at school a lot longer than most students realize.
Cheerleading co-captain senior Mackenzie Bexten said this job takes hours upon hours to complete, as well as teamwork and dedication.
“I draw the words and [co-captain senior] Kacey Miller draws the pictures, and then everyone helps paint,” she said. “We usually start during seventh hour cheer class, around 1:30 or 2 [p.m.], and don’t leave until about 9 or 10 [p.m.]. Then four or five people have to come back and roll it up two hours later.”
Miller said brainstorming run-through designs is a combined effort.
“We all kind of put in ideas and build off of each other,” she said. “It gets hard because we try to be clever, but not too clever. If it’s too clever, they won’t get it in the short time they see it. We rely on the rest of varsity to roll out the paper and tape on the poles and flip it over while we are in the library coming up with ideas, the font and the pictures I should draw.”
Bexten said the supplies for the run-throughs are surprisingly expensive.
“It’s actually pretty expensive because we have to buy tons of rolls of duct tape, masking tape, paint, paint brushes and the paper,” she said. “The money comes from our car wash we do every year.”
Bexten said there are both positives and negatives to making the run-through every week.
“The worst part of making it is probably just how time-consuming it is,” she said. “Since we’re there so late, I can never start my homework until after I get home at 10 [p.m.]. The best part is just being with the team.”
Miller said watching the run-throughs rip due to weather or other problems is heart-breaking.
“It sucks,” she said. “Seriously, it’s inevitable, so you can’t really do anything about it. There’s been times when me and [Bexten] had a little cry session — it’s so sad.”
Bexten said spending so much time together creating the run-throughs brings the cheer team together as a whole.
“It helps us bond because we talk about so much during the time that we’re there,” she said. “At dinner, we all just chat, and I’ve learned so much about all of the girls. They are truly all my best friends. We all get along so well, and it’s just a fun time.”
Bexten said she believes the run-throughs benefit the football team.
“It’s so much fun when the boys run through because you can tell they are a little nervous and jittery,” she said. “But it seems like, afterwards, they get so excited and pumped for the game, and it’s just awesome to be a part of that.”
Bexten said cheering at Blue Valley has changed her high school experience for the better.
“It’s taught me how to work as a team, time management and to be open-minded,” she said. “Some of the girls on my team that are my best friends now, I may have never talked to if I wasn’t a cheerleader,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed being a cheerleader all four years, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”