Cheerleaders are athletes, too. Not only do they travel with football teams all fall, they also compete in their own cheerleading tournaments.
Except, that's not the case for the Olympus (Utah) High cheerleading squad. Well, part of it is: The cheerleaders will travel anywhere to support the football or basketball teams … or any Olympus sports teams at any level, for that matter. What the squad won't do is compete in any cheerleading-specific events.
That means that the Olympus cheerleaders are only in it for the cheering and camaraderie they get from spending time together. As the Salt Lake Tribune reported, the cheerleaders themselves wouldn't have it any other way.
"Not competing makes cheer a lot more fun," senior cheerleader Amy Cox told the Tribune. "Without competition, we are able to focus on our education and I think it brings us all closer together when we aren't worried about that."
If there was any prospect of a future return to competition, it was dispelled when the team tried to participate in one area competition in the 2010-11 school year, only to decide they would rather leave than go through with the competitive phase of the event.
That's a sentiment that fits with what the team has always stood for, according to Olympus cheerleading coach Jennifer Goodman.
"At Olympus, we don't go to cheerleading competitions," Goodman told the Tribune. "Our focus is more on leadership and supporting the school. When you break down the word cheerleader you can take 'cheer,' which is encouraging the school, and 'leader' which is really what I want my team to be. I feel competition takes away from those two things."
There's little distinction made between teams the Olympus squad cheers for, either. While the program focuses on football and boys basketball games like most cheer squads, it also makes appearances at swim meets, cross country meets, even the Salt Lake Marathon.
All of that helps the team feel like it moves beyond the typical stereotypes put upon cheerleaders.
"We try to be friendly to everyone we see and set a good example," said Cox. "I think it has made a difference -- we seem to have a pretty good school family at Olympus."