Sierra Youth Football and Cheer registration available May 8, 16 | SierraSun.com
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Sierra Youth Football and Cheer registration available May 8, 16

Brad Hamilton
Special to the Sun
Submitted PhotoSierra Youth Football and Cheerleaders in action.
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Pulling into a full parking lot at the Reno Convention Center last November was an assurance that something big was happening. Seeing the many pony tails trailing smiling faces painted with red paws and green wings was a big clue that this was going to be more entertaining than a home and garden show.

Parents, friends and other family followed a glitter trail fluttering down from those same pony-tailed girls into a massive convention room that nearly matched the dimensions of a football field. Everyone immediately dispersed into the bleacher seats with all those in red going toward the far side of the room, those in purple climbing up the high bleachers immediately to the right and those in blue filing into cramped seats on the near side of the room.

Once the hundreds of people were uncomfortably crammed into their seats and younger siblings were piled onto parent’s laps, it started.

With the pop song and#8220;You Can’t Touch Thisand#8221; pumping over the broad acoustics and parents fumbling with children and their pamphlet detailing their involvement in the cheer, each team took to the padded floor and performed their mix of tumbles, stunts and cheers.

It was the Sierra Youth Football and Cheer’s annual competition in which seven age divisions of cheerleaders representing high school areas from around Reno and extending out to Truckee and Lassen try to impress a handful of professional judges to win a trophy and all the pride that comes with it. The girls range in age from 5 to 14. It is the single SYFL competition that comes at the end of the football and cheer season. It allows the girls their first opportunity to not just cheer on their football teams to victory from the sidelines but take center stage and put a routine together to get a taste of victory from their own kicks and stunts.

Even though that brisk November day was five months ago, April and Angelina Heppner talked about it like it was yesterday. Both sisters, 11 and 7, respectively, have cheered for the Truckee Youth Football and Cheer Wolverines for the past three years and look forward to the 2012 season and the ensuing competition.

and#8220;I love the competition because it allows you to perform in front of others and not just Truckee,and#8221; said April, who cheered for the freshman squad last year. and#8220;Last year they were loud at the competition, so it made me a little nervous about messing up. But I just like to perform in front of people.and#8221;

April overcame her nerves and performed well, calling out the cheers at the competition and spotting behind her team’s stunts. Despite her efforts, she and her teammates fell shy of placing in the top three spots for the first time in three years. She earned first-place finishes both previous years for Truckee.

April’s sister, Angelina, said the crowds made her nervous too, but she also overcame her nerves through hours of practice leading up to the competition.

Angelina placed second in the competition with her fellow bandit cheerleaders, ages 5 to 7. The Bandits did a cheer detailing how to make a desert with a cherry on top. Angelina figuratively put a cherry on top of the Bandits’ performance with a tumble called a and#8220;Bow and Arrow.and#8221; She was the only cheerleader in her division to pull off such a difficult move.

The move involves Angelina bending over backwards and touching the ground with her hands to create a body arch from her grounded feet to her hands. Then she kicks one of her legs with enough power to bring her entire body over her hands and finish the move by allowing her legs’ momentum to bring her upright.

The strength to pull off that move is what Angelina finds as one of the best things about being a Truckee cheerleader.

and#8220;It’s fun, and it also help your body get stronger,and#8221; she said.

TYFC Cheer Director Laura Elvrum said the two sisters exemplify the 60 Truckee cheerleaders that shook pom poms and formed pyramids of smiling faces along the sidelines and during halftime on the field last year. She agreed with the two sisters that cheer offers girls the opportunity to get stronger and learn to overcome huge obstacles like a raucous crowd of nearly 1,000 people watching them.

and#8220;Cheerleading is a sport that teaches so much that filters in the athlete’s everyday lives,and#8221; said Elvrum, a cheerleader in Georgia from age 6 to 18. and#8220;Increasing self-confidence, learning to work as a team, embracing positive spirit and sportsmanship are just a few of the benefits of being a cheerleader.and#8221;

The Truckee Wolverines have been a part of the SYFL the past four years and are already in the planning and development stages to expand on Truckee’s recent success on the sidelines of local youth football and the year-ending competition in Reno.

The 2012 campaign is getting underway with online registration that opened April 25 and mandatory walk-in registrations set for Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 16. The walk-in registrations are at the Truckee High School gym from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. both evenings. More information is available at http://www.TruckeeYouthFootballandCheer.com.


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