by Olivia Conway, staff reporter

During the school year, sophomore Megan Schlather, freshman Mia Maness and the other Tiger cheerleaders live and breathe cheerleading.

“During the fall it’s a lot, it’s a huge time commitment because we have pep rallies, cheer during the week and we have to prepare for pep rallies, [paint and hang up] posters, and decorate the hallways,” Schlather said.

Schlather has been cheering since sixth grade and enjoys supporting the Consol sports teams with endless amounts of spirit and energy.

“[It’s important to have] spirit for your school and just a positive spirit in general for the people you are around, just embracing that joyful [nature] and leadership quality,” Schlather said. “You’re happy and you’re leading and you’re representing who your school is.”

Besides their public performances at pep rallies and sporting events, the cheerleaders help out around the school in other ways.

“There’s a lot of behind the scenes things that [the cheerleaders] do,” cheerleading coach Allison Cope said. “All the signs that are put up, student council does a lot of those, but the cheerleaders do all those signs, they paint them all in the summer and get it all taken care of [and] they do send offs, which are like pep rallies.”

During the school year, the cheerleaders are responsible for many acts of kindness that benefit both teachers and students.

“We did one [project] where we wrote kind messages on little pieces of paper and stuck them around the school,” Maness said.

Their kindness also spreads outside the halls of Consol to positively impact others in the community. The cheerleaders hold small clinics for younger girls to start learning cheerleading, make cards to be distributed to children’s hospitals on holidays like Halloween and Christmas, and help with teacher breakfasts.

Due to their often public presence, the cheerleaders have become role models for their peers and others in the area.

“They’re leaders and they’re role models and they have to be careful with their social media, they have to be careful with what they wear, they have to be careful with what they say because they are considered leaders of the school,” Cope said. “That’s one of the aspects [of cheerleading] that we talk about from the very beginning.”

The cheerleaders also focus on friendship and community and have developed close friendships that last beyond practices and games.

“We do so much together and a lot of us are involved in other stuff together outside of school. There are some girls who dance together outside of school and there are a bunch of us who go to church together outside of school, so when we’re in the same cheer room we have so much fun together,” Schlather said.  

Maness joined cheerleading in eighth grade especially for the close-knit community of the cheerleaders.

“I wanted to do something that was like a team sport because I used to do gymnastics but I didn’t like that it was so individual,” Maness said. “I wanted to be part of the team.”

While the cheerleaders are responsible for supporting other Consol teams as opposed to being cheered for themselves, they don’t feel overlooked or underappreciated by the rest of the school.

“The administration is very supportive of the cheerleaders and making sure that their voice is heard [and] the student section [at games], those that are there, are good about sitting together and standing on the rail and doing the cheers with them and supporting and cheering,” Cope said. “We know that we’re there to support other groups, that’s our role and we’re okay with that.”

 Cope, Maness and Schlather all agree that cheerleading is challenging, but the cheerleaders work hard in everything from academics to cheer to setting a good example for their peers.

“[Cheerleading is] harder than it seems and there’s a lot of memorization that goes into it. We have to memorize cheers and where [our] hands go and when [we] do stunts [it] takes some body strength,” Schlather said. “[But] just being out there and getting to be right in front of the action is really exciting.”

Check out a gallery of their practice here: