Cheerleading has long been a part of the high school athletic tradition, but when the pandemic sidelined indoor sporting activities last winter, the GSB Varsity Cheerleading Team season was postponed indefinitely.
As this year’s annual fall pep rally approached, Coach Margery Schiesswohl reached out to returning seniors Meghan Cohen, Caroline Davino, Abigayle Hardy, and Grace Rubinstein to gauge their interest in restarting the program. “It’s important to the culture of the school to have cheerleaders at games,” said Coach Schiesswohl, who brings 30+ years of choreography and dance experience at GSB to the routines and who manages the team with the help of GSB parent Sheri Cohen. “I hated to see them not have this opportunity.”
The seniors enthusiastically picked up their pompoms, and when the call was put out to the school community, seven other girls joined them including newcomers Sara Rodriguez, Allyson Ross, and Savanna Zucker. The team, which had been non-existent the year before, was now eleven strong.
Without hesitation, the girls found space to work and quickly made up for lost time. “The senior leadership on this team knows what they are doing,” Coach Schiesswohl said proudly, “and they teach the others.”
Like many local teams, the group focuses on the more traditional “sideline” cheering as opposed to the aerobatic stunts highlighted on the popular Netflix series Cheer. However, with several former and current gymnasts on the roster, the girls have leveraged their individual strengths and inserted high-energy tumbling into sequences for that additional “kick.”
While the initial goal for the team will be to enhance on-campus spirit, Coach Schiesswohl has a not-so-secret plan to grow the program into something far more ambitious: a competitive sideline cheer squad. Like many successful grassroots efforts at the school, she sees the girls’ current efforts as foundation building and as setting the stage for a future that expands beyond cheering for the home team.
“Someday these girls will come back and look at a competitive GSB Cheer Squad and think, ‘Wow, I remember when this started,’” Coach Schiesswolh said with a smile. “‘I remember when we were just a club.’”