The competitive cheerleading season in Maine came to a close last week with the state cheerleading championships in Bangor. For most, cheerleading is seen as an activity reserved for the sidelines. But, for the cheerleaders, coaches and parents involved, competitive cheerleading is as demanding as any sport.
Weeks — sometimes months — of preparation and practice come down to pulling off a three-minute routine in front of a panel of judges.
“It is three minutes to give it all you have got. It is a one-shot deal, one and done,” Lewiston High School cheerleading coach Lynnette Morency said.
On the mat, the focus is on precision and technique. Behind the scenes, emotions run high as cheerleaders try to shake off nervousness and boredom.
“[Competition] teaches the girls to be cool, calm and collective … Everybody has a different stress level,” Deer Isle-Stonington coach Kim Larson said.