RUIDOSO – The next time you’re at a Ruidoso athletic contest, understand that you’re actually watching two Warrior teams at work out there.
One – of course – is on the field or the court, working hard to bring home a victory. The other is on the sidelines, both cheering on the team and encouraging you to cheer with them.
This year’s Ruidoso cheer squad is young – like just about every other squad the Warriors are fielding this season – but they’re dedicated.
Just like the football team taking to the field in the early morning hours before school starts, the cheerleading team is in the auxiliary gym, working on their routines.
“Its a lot more than people would think. Most people just see what goes on at the games,” said cheer coach Nancy Alvarado. “Having practice that early actually helps when we have games in the afternoon and we don’t have to cut practice short. Double duty in one day.”
Twelve students from Ruidoso High have made it their mission to cheer on the Warrior faithful, and it’s about more than just getting the fans to join in.
Each spring, the team takes part in the State Spirit competition at The Pit in Albuquerque, about a week after the state basketball tournament has vacated the premises.
The competition features two performances – dance and cheer – and each performance lasts about three minutes. Everything is scrutinized to the most minute detail – from dancing to enthusiasm to handling of props like signs and pom-poms.
“Even the way you hold the sign, the way you release the sign, you can get points off in competition if you don’t do it just right,” Alvarado said. “The way you hold the pom-poms, the way you smile, the way you look at the crowd. It’s more than just ‘hey, lets cheer and perform.’
“They have to be able to, yell, cheer, dance and stunt at the same time,” she added. “You only have one minute to do one routine and two minutes to do the other and that’s it. We prepare the whole year for three minutes.”
To be eligible for the state spirit competition, teams must have competed in at least three prior meets in the season. Ruidoso is getting an early jump with a competition in December, but that’s just as much about getting these young kids – there’s only one senior on the squad, and only three have cheered competitively before – as much experience as possible.
“That’s to give them a reminder of what we’re trying to do and give them a head start,” Alvarado said. “They didn’t do any competitions last year, so I’m working to get them ready now.”
Team members are Sierra Edmister, Aurelia Espinoza, Melissa Estrada, Domnick Kayitah, Karina Martinez, Kenia Moreno, Leslie Nevarez, Haley Robbins, Talynn Stewart, Lindsey Thomas, Allie Thornton and Taia Yankee.