Cheerleading: Lady Hubs adapting to routine changes

Sophomore Morgan Smardo (middle) holds onto teammates Liberty Hayes (left) and Lauryn Akey (right) during a cheerleading routine this past basketball season. Under new COVID-19 guidelines, stunting is among many skills that will not be allowed during the competitive cheerleading season this winter. (Photo by Marcy DeLille)

Stunting, pyramids and baskets among restrictions due to COVID-19

ROCHELLE — Lady Hub cheerleaders have been working hard over the last several months preparing for the elite stunts, pyramids and baskets they would perform during the upcoming sideline and competitive cheerleading seasons. While the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent Rochelle’s cheerleaders from showcasing those skills this winter, head coach Trish Rodeghero and the Lady Hubs are ready to make the most of their upcoming competitive season.

Like dance, cheerleading had initially been listed as a high-risk sport by the IDPH, meaning cheerleaders could only conduct no-contact practices throughout the summer and fall. Cheerleading has since been revised to a low-risk sport, meaning the IHSA can conduct competitive cheerleading this winter under specific COVID-19 restrictions. Rodeghero said she was excited, but disappointed in the changes that have been made for the winter season.

“We are in very close contact with each other when stunting during a routine and there wouldn’t have been many ways to execute our routine safely with the guidelines we were given had cheerleading stayed a high-risk sport,” Rodeghero said. “Everything the girls worked so hard for and enjoy about the sport is not allowed anymore… Either way, I’m glad the girls will be given the opportunity to do something this winter, even if it’ll look very different.”

The Lady Hub cheerleaders practiced outdoors throughout the summer in preparation for the football season, staying 6 feet apart and working through sideline chants, loyalty and sideline dances. Since partner lifts are not allowed under the new competitive cheerleading guidelines, Rodeghero said many girls attended Hub Power to stay conditioned over the summer.

“We will have a completely different format this year,” Rodeghero said. “We usually do a two-and-a-half-minute routine with cheering, dancing, tumbling, partner stunting, pyramids, baskets and more. We will still complete a routine this year, but it will consist mostly of dancing, tumbling with masks and possibly cheering. It won’t feel like a typical routine, but it’s better than nothing. Most competitions will be done virtually and that will be a huge change.”

Scoring will be conducted differently this season, with scoring for stunts, pyramids and baskets being removed due to the current guidelines. For live competitions, teams will be required to stay in their respective buses until calls are made to warm up and compete, and no live award ceremonies will occur. For virtual competitions, teams will be required to submit videos within a particular time from when the meet begins, and videos will be judged remotely.

Whether the competitions are in person or virtual, all cheerleaders must stay 6 feet apart during each routine. While the future remains to be seen as far as how the new-look routines will be executed, Rodeghero said she’s excited the girls will have a chance to compete.

“I’m honestly not going into the season with any expectations because this is like starting a whole new routine we’ve never done before,” Rodeghero said. “I don’t know what routines are going to look like without the main elements, and whether or not we’ll be allowed to cheer during our routines keeps changing. I’m so excited mainly to allow the girls the opportunity to do what they love, even if it looks completely different. They are an amazing group of young ladies with such positive attitudes and they are always willing to go with the flow.”

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