Friday, September 23, 2016

First Game as a Saint’s Cheerleader

September 17th was anything but a normal day for me, in fact it was kind of a significant day. This was the day that I performed as a Saints cheerleader for the first time. For most people that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was for me. When I was in high school I was on dance team and our school’s dance team and cheer team had a major rivalry. When I left high school I didn’t really have any intentions to join Saint Scholastica’s dance team but I definitely didn’t think I would end up on the cheer team. As a senior going into my freshmen year of college a friend of mine suggested that I try out for the team with her and I was very adamant about saying no. After my first year of college I realized something was missing in my life and that something happened to be being on a team.
The spring semester of my freshman year of college I had made up my mind, I was going to try out to become a cheerleader. At tryouts the dancing came easily to me but the cheering and stunting was more of a challenge. All I could do was do my best and I was elated to hear that my best had been good enough for a spot on the team. Over the summer I trained hard to get into shape and got my butt kicked by the cheer overnight, the U of M camp and early move in. All of that hard work was all for that first game.
I really struggled keeping up with all the cheers that we learned so it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that when the week of the first football game came up, I was a nervous wreck. I had always had some performance anxiety but never really like this. I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to hear the cheers when they called them or I was going to mess up all the cheers and make a fool of myself. Luckily for me, I had practice a lot on my own before the game and only messed up a small portion of one of the many cheers that we lead on that Saturday afternoon.
Another thing that I was extremely nervous about was the game day stunting. Prior to the game there had been some changes to our stunting groups and I was worried that our stunts wouldn’t go up very well. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or just a really good stunting day for my stunt group but everything that we put in the air stayed up. It felt amazing to have all of our preps hit so strongly, especially after having struggled with them at the last practice. Every cheer that we did while in a prep went off without a single hitch!
Overall, it was a really good experience. I enjoyed watching our football boys win the first home game of the season and trying to convince the crowd to cheer them on alongside us. I really hadn’t realized how much I missed performing in front of a crowd. Its nerve racking but in so many ways it is also very rewarding. I am glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and decided to try out to be a cheerleader. I love my team and I am so excited to see what is to come next for us Saints. Let’s go Saints!

-Submitted by Victoria Hansen, Sophomore

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ready to Rock!! Our First Home Football Game of the Year!!

It’s amazing how fast a month can pass! It feels like just yesterday we were learning the first cheer and practicing it over and over, but now our first game is upon us! As the weeks have gone by, we have been working hard to be ready for the first home football game of the season. From the first day of early move-in, we have been learning cheers and going over them countless times to get them just right for game day. The team has been putting in many hours of stunting as well to wow the crowd on Saturday! These hours came with plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, along with multiple rolls of tape but we are ready! This week has been very busy as well- putting stunts to cheers seems to be a bit of a struggle at first! Poms are also an interesting thing to add; have you ever noticed how sweaty your hands get? It soon will all pay off when we cheer this weekend. We’ve got our uniforms clean, our hair ready to be “pouffed,” and our poms sparkling for the big day!

-Jenna Niska, Junior

Back to High School!!

On Saturday August 27th, the team piled into cars and headed to Cook, MN. When we arrived, we were greeted by high school cheer teams. The teams were from North Woods, Chisholm, and International Falls.  It was an early morning but we were ready for a day of fun.

We started with a warm up and a stretch. This was a time for all of us to get ready for what was to come but it also gave our team a chance to interact with the girls before we started to work. The girls from these schools varied in experience level so we went through the basics such as loads, all the way up to stunts they can work towards in the next coming years like back tuck baskets.

Once we demonstrated these stunts, we broke off into small stunt groups and helped the teams at their own levels progress with technique and skills. Many girls were hesitant at first, but all ended up trying everything we asked them to do. By the end of the stunting portion, we could see real improvement in all stunt groups.

We had a chance to eat lunch with the girls during our break and were able to learn more about how they got involved with cheerleading and who they are outside of cheer. It was fun to interact with the girls outside of cheer for a little bit.

Later, we went back to the gyms and taught the girls a few cheers. We also went over jumps during this time and a few other skills. Many of the girls seemed to enjoy this part of the day as it was a time for them to cheer, be happy, and learn something new.

In the end, it was a fun experience for both sides. Our team was able to learn how to teach and better our skills as the younger teams were able to learn new skills and techniques. Both sides learned new ways to interact with others and found our common interest in cheer grow through this experience.

-Keke Buchannan, Freshman

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

And We're Off!

Cheer season is in full swing as the cheerleaders moved onto campus on August 19.  We worked hard over the past two weeks to ensure we were ready for the season. We practiced twice daily to learn all the cheers, dances and work on new stunts! Thanks to the hard work from everyone, we feel confident for what the rest of the season will bring us. 

Not only did we spend this time getting ready for the season, but also getting to know each other better. Whether it was a target run or a team dinner, there were always smiles and laughter. Alex, Audrey and Shannon hosted a taco potluck for our first team bonding event of the season. Later in the week, Hailey and Victoria hosted a pasta dinner. Both events were filled with yummy food and conversation as we grew closer as a team. We thank all who hosted these team bonding activities! 

We are all looking forward to the season ahead! 

- Caitlin Hare

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Look At Us Now!

In 2014 we attended a stunt camp at the University of Minnesota for the first time. The camp started with the U of M team demonstrating ‘basic’ stunts, which we watched with panicked expressions. We all felt like we did not belong there. However, we stuck it through and this year was our third year attending the camp. Those basic stunts that once terrified us are now our warm-up stunts.

The camp is grueling with a total of 8 hours of stunting over the course of a day and a half. This year we learned new entries and exits from stunts, game day stunts with signs, and of course, the crowd-pleasing basket tosses and pyramids. Through all of the flipping, tossing, twisting and catching we walked away with bruises and sore muscles but it was definitely all worth it. We brought home new stunts to show off and material to work on throughout the rest of the season.

Thank you to all of the University of Minnesota coaches and cheerleaders! We will see you next year!
~Shannon Phelps, Football Captain & Senior

Julia, Natalie and Hope working with University of Minnesota Cheerleaders on the use of signs to energize a crowd!

Our Starbucks stop Sunday morning, because cheerleaders run on coffee!

Team picture before Day 2


Working with Coach Jake and University of Minnesota Cheerleaders

Coach Owens is one of the best in the country and we learn so much from his teaching!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Thomas the Tank Engine rolled into Duluth this past weekend, and the CSS Cheerleaders and their families were there to help make his stay enjoyable for everyone!  The CSS Cheerleaders volunteered on Saturday and Sunday at the event and performed a wide variety of jobs such as handing out prizes and wrist bands, greeting guests, photos with Thomas, face painting and carnival games.  Our own Rachel Jezierski has a new title:  Bubble Goddess!  She worked in the “Bubble Mecca” which consisted of four kiddie pools filled with water, six bottles of dish washing liquid each and an aerator to create mounds of bubbles!  Rachel perfected the art of bubble making that day!  I’m not sure who had more fun – Rachel or the kids! 

In exchange for working at the event, our team gets a donation to our program.  We have big plans this year so every little bit helps.  And in order to meet our volunteer minimum, cheerleaders brought friends, boyfriends, siblings and parents to help out.  We want to say a big THANK YOU to them, especially, as their only interest was the love of their CSS Cheerleader.  I can’t say thank you to them enough – it’s just not possible. 

In all, we honestly enjoyed being at the event.  Watching the excitement on the children’s faces as they saw their hero for the first time was so much fun!  And Duluth provided two days of perfect weather!  We can’t wait to go back next year!  

Hard at work!!
Some of our FABULOUS crew!! 

"Bubble Mecca" and the Bubble Goddess at work!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Overnight Success!!!

Summer Overnight Success! 

Summer overnight - it's hot and it's brutal.  There are 8 hours of practice each day and most of it is dedicated to stunting to prepare us for camp at the University of Minnesota in August.  It's a lot of sore muscles, bruises and good ol' blood, sweat and tears.

Each year the football squad spends an entire weekend on campus practicing, but also getting to know each other, setting our goals for the season, and learning what it means to be a CSS Cheerleader.  It's a chance to segregate ourselves from the day-to-day tasks so that we can be present in each moment and really come together as a team.

Friday was spent practicing, and then we spent the evening in a team meeting going over all of the paperwork and expectations for the season.  We ended with a craft project - decorating picture frames - because doing crafts always seems to be a great ice breaker and hey!  It's FUN!

The squad again spent Saturday practicing, stopping only for lunch.  Saturday night we had a nice team dinner at Olive Garden, and then back to campus for Minute to Win It games!  Everyone had a good time and had a few good belly laughs!

Sunday practices only went until noon, but we hit some of our biggest stunts of the weekend!  We also spent some time deciding our squad goals, most of which involved being great teammates and having great attitudes.  Physical skills barely made the list.  We know that when we are a high functioning and cohesive team, that the physical skills will come.


Each year I am amazed at how far we have come and this year is no exception.  We are already starting the year ahead of where we ended last year.  It's so wonderful to see the progress!  I love spending the weekend getting to know these fabulous athletes.  They are funny and kind, caring and sometimes raunchy.  But I love them and wouldn't trade them for the world!

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Spirit Stick - CSS Cheer Award of Excellence

To recognize individual excellence through the year, we have decided to award a Spirit Stick and ribbon to a cheerleader each week or, during special events (like this weekend), each practice for going above and beyond.  This weekend we honored three such cheerleaders:

Adrienne Skelton (Incoming Freshman)
Adrienne was chosen by the captains to receive the Spirit Stick the first day.  Adrienne has no previous cheer experience and jumped into stunting without fear.  She took our critiques seriously and applied them and was able to make some great strides this weekend.  She never gave up and she kept working all weekend.

Keke Buchannan (Incoming Freshman)
Keke was chosen by Adrienne and the captains chose her because she was brand new to stunting and was willing to try everything. When someone asked if she wanted to try something, she never said no!

Hannah Olinger (Incoming Freshman)
Hannah was chosen by Keke and the captains for her strong work ethic.  Hannah has extensive cheer experience but had a lot to adjust to coming to CSS Cheer, and her great attitude inspired Keke to get in there and try new things.  In addition, Hannah really put herself out there and got to know all of her teammates.  She initiated conversations and asked thoughtful questions to learn more about the people on her team, which is what the whole weekend is about!