By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
A lot of preparation and hard work goes into a home game at Rattler Stadium.
The players and coaches practice and run drills during the week to fine tune their techniques for the next matchup. Countless hours of labor, sweat and dedication are spent preparing for Friday nights.
During the game there is a second home team on the field. They do not tackle or intercept passes, they do not pass or kick the ball. Their goal is to inspire and motivate. This second team is the Tucumcari Rattlers cheerleaders.
In all, there are 19 cheerleaders on the Rattler squad.
There are five upcoming home games and at each of the games the cheerleaders plan to perform a different half-time routine, said Christine Montano, assistant cheerleading coach.
“There is a lot of work that goes into being a cheerleader,” said sophomore cheerleader Laci Dennis. “You have to be committed to hard work and stay on top of your grades. Our coach checks our grades every two weeks.”
The cheerleaders practice for three hours on Sunday, an hour every morning Monday through Thursday before school starts and 2 1/2 hours on Friday to prepare for a one-to-four minute half-time routine, said cheerleader Misty McKinney, a senior.
Unlike college and pro games, at high school games, there is only one half-time routine because that is all the time that is allotted, McKinney said.
During practice cheerleaders work on tumbling, dance routines and stunts. Stunts can include basket tosses and elevator maneuvers.
In the basket toss, two bases and one back spot lift and toss the flyer into the air. The flyer then performs a spin or flip maneuver and is then caught by the basses and back spot.
“The flyer is chosen by the weight and size of the flyer and their flexibility in the air to perform stunts,” McKinney said. “There is a lot of trust between the flyer and the bases and back spot who throws and catches them. I am the back spot to a flyer who trusts me to do that job.”
The stunts are generally done during the half-time routine and the cheering and tumbling are done on the sidelines or during time-outs, McKinney said.
“Tumbling such as cartwheels and flips are done when we go on or off the field or on or off the court,” McKinney said. “We usually use tumbling to catch the audience’s attention.”
Sometimes, the cheerleaders say they are teased by other students who contend that cheerleading is a sport that anybody can do.
“People don’t know or understand just how much work and effort goes into being a cheerleader,” Dennis said. “We do two-a-days like everyone else but we don’t get an off season during the school year.”
The Rattlers cheerleadersquad has one captain and four lieutenants. The lieutenants are like co-captains just more of them in order to help out the other cheerleaders when they need it, said McKinney.
Here are the officers on the Rattlers cheerleading squad.
l Capt. Marissa Lees
l Second Lt. Dennis
l Third Lt. McKinney
l Fourth Lt. Lauren Chacon
l Fifth Lt. Desirae Evans
In addition to practice at home, there are cheerleading camps and competitions to attend.
In July, 13 of the Rattlers cheerleaders attended the UCA cheerleading camp at Eastern New Mexico University at Portales.
At the camp competition, the Rattlers cheerleaders received the Superior trophy in Ranking, spirit award and had three All-Star placings. The all stars were Lees, Torri Carmichael and Adrianna White.
The team also beat out 13 competing teams to win the Camp Champ Trophy and received an invitation to perform during the New Year’s Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
“The girls have the opportunity to perform at a college bowl game if they can raise enough money,” said Rattlers cheerleading coach Dawn Bilbrey.
The Rattlers cheerleading plan to hold fundraisers, including a dance, a car wash and youth cheerleading clinic for children who will perform at Tucumcari’s homecoming.