HELENA — The Helena High School Bengals cheer team might be small, but they had a big year. Now, the team is looking for more cheerleaders to keep the momentum going.
This year’s team not only cheered at everything from football games to wrestling matches, but they competed and took third place in their division at CheerFest—the team’s first competition in almost a decade.
“Everyone just left it out on that mad, and that’s what it all about,” Bengals senior cheerleader Marie Templin said. “That’s what I’m really proud of, we did work our hardest out there.”
Head coach Alexis Navarrete said this year’s team is a special group of athletes.
“We are exceptional students, we are exceptional in our community, and we are exceptional teammates as well,” Navarrete said. “We are very supportive of each other, and they excel in and out of practice. That’s very rewarding as a coach to be able to see.”
The 2022-2023 team set a foundation Navarrete said she hopes to build on. The team is holding tryouts starting May 15, and no prior cheerleading experience is needed to tryout for the team.
“We are really great at teaching fundamentals from the ground up,” Navarrete said. “If you’re willing to try, we will definitely progress you into a really great athlete.”
Two of the three seniors on this year’s team had never cheered before.
“I started cheer just because I was like ‘that would be something fun to do for my senior year,’” Bengals senior cheerleader Elisabeth Lloyd said. “So, I kind of went in to it not knowing what you even do, but I’m happy that I joined.”
Senior Eva Cobb also joined the team her senior year, and had never cheered before.
“It’s just such a great atmosphere, the girls are so nice, we have great coaches,” Cobb said. “You go to every practice just excited to see what you’re going to learn and how you’re going to progress every day.”
Both Lloyd and Cobb said they are interested in continuing to cheer in college, and Templin signed to cheer at Montana State University-Billings.
All three cheerleaders said they encourage people to give the sport a try.
“I would say to not be afraid to put yourself out there and try something that you never would have thought of doing,” Lloyd said.
New skills and a competition under their belts are not the only things Helena High cheerleaders gained this year, they also gained friends.
“We truly are a big family,” Cobb said. “These two are my very best friends, and I never would have been friends with them if I didn’t have my cheer team.”