July 13, 2024 7:01 pm

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Lynnwood’s nationally acclaimed competitive cheer team prepares for a Fall of unknowns

By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times

Spirit on the Lynnwood High School Royals Cheer Team remains high despite looming uncertainty of the upcoming season.

Before the pandemic hit, the Lynnwood Royals Cheer had just placed eighth in the country at the National High School Cheerleading Championships in February. Now, they sit with the uncertainty of whether there will even be a cheer season this year.

“We planned for a full year, and we just continue to change things and cross bridges as we get to them,” said Royal’s Cheer Coach Lesley Brunson. “Working out how we can be those leaders showing that change is okay, that we can adapt to things and still have fun is the way I’m looking at it.”

Blueprints for how ESD’s high school athletics will take shape in the upcoming year is unknown. Despite the district announcing a fully remote reopening start for the beginning of the school year, Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab notes that fall athletics are still up in the air, with the decision of schools’ ability to continue with athletics undecided.

“We have to have conversations as a group about how we are going to move forward with athletics,” Schwab told families during a July 29 community forum. “We have to ask the question, ‘is it safe to have students come in for sporting events and practices?’.”

ESD’s Athletics Department amended its 20-21 sports season calendar to align with modifications issued by its membership association, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), on Tuesday, July 21. The dates proposed by the WIAA Executive Board are tentative until further notice.

In Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s safe start plan, neither cheer coaches nor team members can have any contact with another participant, says the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH). While contactless chants, jumps and dances are permissible, stunts are not.

Sideline cheerleading has been given the green light when the county moves into Phase 3, dubbed as a low-risk activity by the NFSH due to participants’ ability to stay physically distant from one another. Competitive cheer competitions cannot resume until Phase 4 due to the necessary close and sustained contact between teammates.

With the Lynnwood Royal Cheer team’s ability to practice stunts for performances on hold, Brunson made the difficult decision to cancel their involvement in competitive cheer competitions, if resumed. Influences from health regulations and uncertainty in organizing fundamental practices added complexity to the decision, says Brunson. 

“It’s tough,” Brunson remarked. “I have to flex what I thought my year would look like and what I was hoping it would look like, but as long as my athletes and their families are safe, we can go from there. That’s what matters.”

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