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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

THIS IS A SPORT AS WELL: Participants at this past weekend’s cheerleading camp in Liberty are put through their paces. Thirteen members of the LCS cheerleading squad took part in the three-day camp.

Three-Day Camp Hones
Cheerleading Skills

By Rob Potter
LIBERTY — August 25, 2000 – Just as area high school football players are sweating through August practices, cheerleaders are also spending their last few weeks of summer vacation rehearsing for the upcoming gridiron season.
Last weekend at Liberty Central School, 13 members of the school’s varsity and junior varsity cheerleading teams attended an intense three-day camp in preparation for the upcoming football season.
In addition to learning several cheers and formations for football cheering — and a few for basketball cheerleading later this scholastic year — the girls ran and exercised to get into better physical shape.
This is the third consecutive year that Liberty Cheerleading coach Jesyca Murphy and her cheerleaders have held a summer camp at the school.
And it is at these sessions that Murphy and her athletes spend hours honing their cheers and routines, in an effort to erase old stereotypes and show game-day crowds that cheerleading has evolved from an extracurricular activity to a serious sport.
“We’re working constantly to improve the image of cheerleading,” Murphy said. “We have been working hard the past three years. These girls here have paid for this camp out of their own pockets. Some of them had to quit their summer jobs early to attend this camp.”
Putting the Liberty girls through their paces was Brian Fowler, an instructor from Cheerleaders of America (COA). COA is a company that conducts cheerleading clinics and camps at thousands of high schools and colleges throughout the nation.
“We have used three different companies for our camps and COA has been the best one so far,” Murphy said.
Although just 13 cheerleaders attended the camp, Liberty has approximately 30 varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders — including a few male students. Many of those at the camp wore t-shirts that proclaimed “It’s not cheerleading.” (on the front) “It’s Liberty Cheerleading!” (on the back) as they worked through the routines.
From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the girls practiced dance routines, cheers and formations. And if they were not in precise sequence while reciting a cheer or raising their arms in a routine, all of them hit the floor for push-ups or abdominal crunches.
“And they have to do push-ups if they say ‘I can’t,’” Murphy added.
But the breaks between routines were not always filled with push-ups and/or crunches.
“It gets frustrating for them to hear ‘You’re doing it wrong, fix it,’ over and over again,” Murphy noted. “So when they hit a routine or formation, we give them all of the positive encouragement we can.”
The hard work paid off, as both Murphy and Fowler noted improvements by Sunday.
“They’ve been having a lot of fun, but they have also cleaned up their routines a lot,” said Fowler, who was a three-year cheerleader at the University of Cincinnati and has worked for COA since 1997. “For the most part they have cleaned up their routines and have learned about the importance of having cleaner motions and maintaining deeper concentration.”
Despite all of the hard work, including literally hundreds of push-ups and crunches, the Liberty cheerleaders seemed to enjoy the grueling camp.
“It wasn’t really like a boot camp, it was a lot of fun,” said Lorelei Reynolds, a 14-year-old ninth-grader on the JV squad. “We know our dance routine better now and the experience is a boost for our self esteem. I wish that the rest of the junior varsity and varsity cheerleaders could have been here for this awesome experience.”
Senior Jamie Torres kept a journal of the three-day camp. Earlier this week, she posted entries of her journal at, the website of American Cheerleader magazine.
“It was a little hard and frustrating at times, but it was also a lot of fun,” Torres, 17, said of the camp. “It helped us to be on one page with our routines.”
Varsity squad members who participated in the camp were Sarah Crescitelli, Kira Gibson, Yvonne Olivo and Torres. The JV cheerleaders attending were Ashley Argent, Samantha Espinosa, Sara Fimognari, Amber Kelder, Melinda Kelder, Antonia McVicker, Kristen Niero, Reynolds and Alyssa Thalmann.

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