Spotlight on Rachel Hook: Spreading the Spirit

Cheerleading, News, Spotlight — By on September 19, 2013 4:13 pm

By Jake Leopold

Senior Rachel Hook wears her pom-poms and poses in front of the cheer display case in Mount Vernon High School on Aug. 21. Photo by Jake Leopold.

Senior Rachel Hook wears her pom-poms and poses in front of the cheer display case in Mount Vernon High School on Aug. 21. Photo by Jake Leopold.

“Here we go, Mustangs. Here we go!” This is what Rachel Hook, 17, shouts every Friday night. On a crisp, fall day, the Mount Vernon Mustangs are battling it out on the football field. Rachel is there to cheer them on at every game. As a senior, Rachel is one of the captains of the cheer squad.

Since joining cheer her freshman year, she has met new friends and become more of a leader. “I’ve always liked to dance,” says Rachel, “and as a child I was energetic and loved to cheer with my pom-poms.” A member of both the football and basketball cheer teams, Rachel is coached by Spanish teacher Erica Nichols.                                                  “

However, before she even made it on the team, she had to try out, which consisted of reciting and performing cheers assigned to her. Rachel and fellow senior Briauna Jordan both said they were extremely nervous for cheer tryouts, but that they are glad they did it in the end.  “Being a little freshman, it was very intimidating at first,” said Briauna. “We weren’t as experienced as the other girls, so getting used to the routines was difficult. Luckily the girls were very accepting, which made the stress that much easier to deal with.”

When Rachel eventually found at that she made the squad, she was elated.

Rachel is a natural when it comes to cheering, according to Coach Nichols. “Ever since her freshman year, she has made a lot of progress as a member of the team. In fact, she has one of the most important positions in our football stunts.” Rachel is a back spotter, which she loves. She loads the girls feet-first into the stunting position, yells commands, and pushes them into an elevator sit so they can be flung high into the air for the crowd to see. “My position is exhilarating,” says Rachel, “because I have so much responsibility. If I mess up and can’t load the girl onto her starting position, then our entire stunt will fail.”

In her free time, Rachel enjoys more activities than just cheering. Some of her favorites include shopping, baking, and hanging out with her friends, some of which cheer in the same squad as her. Additionally, she is a lifeguard at the Mount Vernon Pool in the summertime. Occasionally before football games, Rachel and her friends will take a trip into Cedar Rapids for a pre-game meal at Olive Garden, where they will study their twenty or so cheers they will perform for the crowd at that night’s game.

Before the fun at football games can take place, practice must come first. Rachel goes to cheer practice every day before school at 6:30 and works hard, according to members of Rachel’s team. “Rachel is definitely a leader on our team,” says sophomore Mckayla Hartl. “Not only does she organize everybody at practice, but she knows how to relax and have fun with it as well.” A typical practice can last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour with conditioning, ab workouts, and cheer rehearsal coached by Nichols. Some practices go longer the days before games due to the 20-25 cheers needed to be memorized. Laps around the school and planks are commonplace at practice. Rachel says, “Some of the practices are really hard, but we always manage to make it a good time. That’s the most important thing!”

Rachel Hook, McKayla Hartl, Laura Deininger, and Lene Gurvig pose at the game against Solon Aug. 30. Photo by Precious Duenas.

Rachel Hook, McKayla Hartl, Laura Deininger, and Lene Gurvig pose at the game against Solon Aug. 30. Photo by Precious Duenas.

Rachel’s favorite away game to cheer at is Solon. She says, “Even though I’m not the one who is on the field playing, we can still feel the tension between the two teams. We love to get everybody in the crowd pumped up!” Rachel also says she would give advice to freshmen thinking about joining cheer. “Just go for it. You can’t find anything new to enjoy if you don’t at least try it. This is what I did, and now cheer is one of my favorite activities to do outside of school.” She also states that attitude is extremely important, “You always have to have a good attitude and be on your best behavior, otherwise Nichols will yell at you,” she says jokingly, “but honestly, you won’t get anything done as a group if one person thinks they are better than the rest. It’s extremely important to come together as a team and focus so you will be able to get things done at practice.”

Rachel is very proud of what she has accomplished the last three years, and she is going into her senior year with an open mind and ready to have fun. “It’s my senior year so I don’t want it to end, but at the same time I have made so many amazing memories the past three years. I am very proud of what I have achieved and how hard we all have worked. Cheerleading may look easy, but it takes a lot of skill and athleticism.” Rachel wishes more people knew what cheerleading was all about. If Rachel had it her way, more people would do cheer because it brings them together and creates friendships that last all four years of high school.

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