Finding cheer in a tough year

Woodside High's cheerleading team finds ways to keep its spirits up

Woodside High School cheer members hold a pose during practice while a flock of geese flies overhead in Woodside on Dec. 10. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

Sports

Finding cheer in a tough year

Woodside High's cheerleading team finds ways to keep its spirits up

Woodside High School cheer members hold a pose during practice while a flock of geese flies overhead in Woodside on Dec. 10. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

It's been a cheerleading season like no other for the student athletes at Woodside High School.

The normal group bonding trips to the movie theater in downtown Redwood City, flights to national competitions in Southern California, and performances at Friday night home games have come to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, cheer practices begin with temperature checks. Without physical contact, stunts and tumbling are absent, which both require spotting to prevent injuries.

Coach Jaymie Guillena takes the temperature of sophomore and first-year team member Miku Sato on Dec. 10, something she does at the start of every practice. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

Paisley Hyland, a Woodside High School freshman, practices a routine on the Woodside campus on Dec. 9. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

"It's changed," said Woodside High School cheer coach Jaymie Guillena. "A hundred percent."

It's been a long road to practicing in person for the Woodside cheer team, even with the precautions the team is taking. Guillena said the initial shutdown felt like a "gray area." She said at first she thought the pause of in-person schooling and sports was only going to last for a few weeks, but adapted to the change by teaching cheer on Zoom.

"I had Zoom practices five days a week," she said. "Cheerleading is not meant to be learned through Zoom. My students were struggling."

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In the summer, the team was able to resume in-person practice once a week and then two days a week starting in September. Resuming in-person practices involved "a huge thing of hand sanitizer," said Guillena. Two graduated seniors returned to help administer temperature checks. The team now has dedicated pods, as recommended by San Mateo County health guidelines, and some cheer team members choose not to attend in-person practices at all and rely on other team members to remotely teach them the dances.

Coach Jaymie Guillena hands a cupcake to cheer team member and Woodside High School junior Kayleigh Mora at the last practice of the year at Woodside High School on Dec. 10. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

Guillena describes the lost season as being hard on the team. "I wish I could hug everyone sometimes," said junior and third-year cheerleader Faith Soltero. "And stunting is probably the funnest thing ever and getting your stunt group. You start clicking with people and they become like your little family. So we don't really get that. We're kind of just separated from people."

Guillena has decided not to send the competition team to Nationals, which is scheduled to take place in early March, because she doesn't see the team having enough time to practice.

"It breaks my heart, because I have two seniors on the competition team," said Guillena.

But she remains optimistic and hopes to have her team back to normal soon. "I love the kids. I love the atmosphere. It's great. And my Friday nights there, and I just, I want that back," said Guillena.

Woodside High School sophomore Marissa Torres, junior Jillian Peterson and sophomore Noelle Akemann practice cheer routines on the Woodside campus on Dec. 10. Photos by Olivia Treynor.

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Tabetha Torres, a Woodside High School junior new to the team, center, jumps during practice at Woodside High School on Dec. 10. “The material we're learning is very limited,” Torres said. “Since we can't do stunting or tumbling, we're missing out on a lot of skills we could’ve gained." Photo by Olivia Treynor.

Olivia Treynor is a former intern for The Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Finding cheer in a tough year

Woodside High's cheerleading team finds ways to keep its spirits up

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 12:48 pm

It's been a cheerleading season like no other for the student athletes at Woodside High School.

The normal group bonding trips to the movie theater in downtown Redwood City, flights to national competitions in Southern California, and performances at Friday night home games have come to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, cheer practices begin with temperature checks. Without physical contact, stunts and tumbling are absent, which both require spotting to prevent injuries.

"It's changed," said Woodside High School cheer coach Jaymie Guillena. "A hundred percent."

It's been a long road to practicing in person for the Woodside cheer team, even with the precautions the team is taking. Guillena said the initial shutdown felt like a "gray area." She said at first she thought the pause of in-person schooling and sports was only going to last for a few weeks, but adapted to the change by teaching cheer on Zoom.

"I had Zoom practices five days a week," she said. "Cheerleading is not meant to be learned through Zoom. My students were struggling."

In the summer, the team was able to resume in-person practice once a week and then two days a week starting in September. Resuming in-person practices involved "a huge thing of hand sanitizer," said Guillena. Two graduated seniors returned to help administer temperature checks. The team now has dedicated pods, as recommended by San Mateo County health guidelines, and some cheer team members choose not to attend in-person practices at all and rely on other team members to remotely teach them the dances.

Guillena describes the lost season as being hard on the team. "I wish I could hug everyone sometimes," said junior and third-year cheerleader Faith Soltero. "And stunting is probably the funnest thing ever and getting your stunt group. You start clicking with people and they become like your little family. So we don't really get that. We're kind of just separated from people."

Guillena has decided not to send the competition team to Nationals, which is scheduled to take place in early March, because she doesn't see the team having enough time to practice.

"It breaks my heart, because I have two seniors on the competition team," said Guillena.

But she remains optimistic and hopes to have her team back to normal soon. "I love the kids. I love the atmosphere. It's great. And my Friday nights there, and I just, I want that back," said Guillena.

Olivia Treynor is a former intern for The Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online.

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