Valley Forge Cheerleading team named Great Lakes Conference champions in 2018
December 3, 2018
This past fall sports season at Valley Forge has been one for the record books.
Although the varsity football team reached the OHSAA playoffs for the first time in over 15 years, it was another team, the varsity cheerleaders, who took home some hardware. The Patriot cheerleaders placed first at the Great Lakes Conference championship in October, hosted at Valley Forge.
For the Patriots, cheerleading is a full-year experience. Coach Marissa Karls explains that the girls tryout and then begin practice in the spring, all in preparation of the fall football sports season. Once the fall athletic season concludes, the team gets a couple of weeks off before many of them shift to cheerleading for basketball in the winter.
However, at the cheerleading championships, the season and the trophy are based on how well the team performs in one, brief routine.
“We work the whole season for two minutes and 30 seconds,” Karls explained. “The conditioning that we do, the running, the cardio. It’s very intense for two minutes and 30 seconds.”
In her 12th season as coach of the Patriots, Karls designs her routines based on previous experience in conjunction with student input, unlike many other teams in the area who work with outside gyms.
“I mix the music. I make up probably 85 percent of the routine and a lot of the girls throw in their opinions on what we should change,” Karls said. “I pull in stuff from what I’ve been using, what I’ve seen other teams do. I have some girls that are dancers and they come up with some stuff...This is all home grown. We do all of this ourselves which we are quite proud of. Nobody really does that anymore.”
The Patriots faced a number of challenges heading into the competition on October 22. The team, normally sized around 11, was trimmed down to nine due to injury and scheduling conflicts. According to Karls, in order to adjust, the team worked extremely hard during the week leading up to competition.
“It truly is a team sport,” Karls expressed. “Our judges sit up on our balcony (in the gym), so they see the back person. So there is no hiding anybody. Every spot is crucial. When you lose one person, it kind of messes the whole squad up. If you can’t participate or you don’t pull your part, the team suffers.”
In the end, the hard work paid off. The team excelled during their competition routine, and hoisted the championship trophy, marking Karls’ first league championship win.
But, between the cheerleading championship and the varsity football team’s success on the gridiron, it truly has been a special year for the Patriots cheerleading squad. Besides the trophy, they got to enjoy an exciting season of cheerleading as the football team continued their success into the state playoffs.
“I don’t think they understood the magnitude of it,” Karls added. “I’ve been coaching for so long and I coached cheerleading when Jamie Meder was here, NFL player, and Richie Woship (at Purdue University). We’ve never gone so far, even when we had those premier players. So, for me, it was exciting...I think the girls were excited about it. But I don’t think they understood how unique. 16 years. I have two freshmen on the squad, so they weren’t even born the last time that we made it to the playoffs.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Members of the Valley Forge Cheerleading team proudly display their championship trophy after winning the GLC championship in October.