Cheering teams from 15 schools around Maine will gather at Biddeford High School on Saturday for the state’s first game-day cheering competition.
Game-day cheering is designed to help build school spirit and engage crowd involvement in traditional cheerleading. That means using synchronized and energized cheering, chants that accompany a school’s fight song or band chant, and providing encouragement in a variety of game-specific situations — such as a “Defense” cheer when the home team is trying to prevent the opponent from scoring a touchdown.
No pyramids and only standing tumbling moves are allowed, and the energy of the moment is not supplied by loud background music but by the cheers themselves with the aid of megaphones and signs.
The exhibition event is the brainchild of Denise Gelinas of Biddeford, a high school cheering official for more than three decades. In the 1980s, she was instrumental in the introduction of competitive cheering competition in the Maine high school ranks that stresses tumbling, jumps, stunts, pyramids and dance.
Schools scheduled to compete in Saturday’s game-day cheering exhibition include Brewer, Hampden Academy, Dexter, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Old Town and Mount View of Thorndike.
Other schools scheduled to participate include Biddeford, Gorham, Mt. Blue of Farmington, Oxford Hills of South Paris, Portland, Waterville and a team from the University of Maine at Farmington.
Mike Burnham, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association interscholastic division, has said that if game-day cheering proves popular, the MPA may at some point sanction it as a championship-level activity.