By: Nathan Tolson
Hartsville High School cheer has looked very different this year. We had a chance to speak with Mrs. Ashley Ingalls, head coach, about the season. Mrs. Ingalls says she loves working with the girls every year, and especially loves when they work hard to hit a stunt. She says “The look on their faces is priceless and the cheers from their teammates when something does stick is so much fun to be around.” The team has a tradition of coming up with a chant every year to encourage one another, and this has continued this season. Mrs. Ingalls feels most blessed “to be a small part of their lives” and she considers her cheerleaders to be “amazing human beings” even outside of the squad.
This competition season has looked very different for the cheer squad this year. Mrs. Ingalls says the season has been weird, adding because of COVID-19 “we aren’t able to show up to competitions until we have warmups. We warmup, compete, and then immediately leave.” This is different from previous seasons because “a competition is a multiple hour event where you get to see all the other squads from around the state. This year there is a limited amount of fans in the gym while you are competing so that’s a weird feeling of performing in empty gyms. The girls aren’t allowed to count or talk during the routine, so that’s hard when you have to keep up with counts while you are doing the routine.” She also added that the overall experience “can be sad when you think about all that we have lost,” but that the cheer team is “really trying to stay positive that we were able to even compete this year.”
Looking to next year, we asked Mrs. Ingalls what she thinks will be the most important things the squad will need to work on to become better. She said she strives to have more tumblers on the team saying “cheer relies heavily on tumblers, so it’s always a goal of mine to have more tumbling in our routine.” Mrs. Ingalls also hopes to have more time to prepare next season since as a result of COVID-19, they had only two months to perfect a routine. She added that with COVID-19 there are a lot of challenges and that she hopes “that next year we will be back to normal and we can have time to condition and prepare better. It makes for a more comfortable season when you feel prepared.”
Finally, we asked Mrs. Ingalls in retrospective, what she accredits the success of the cheer squad at performance events to. Mrs. Ingalls said she accredits their success to the athletes themselves saying they are a “great group of girls” and that they have “really pushed themselves to do hard things.” She said the team had bonded even when their bonding activities couldn’t happen because of the pandemic. Which she said had “made a huge difference in their performances.” She emphasized that the team “love and care about each other” “They love and care about each other” and that she is “so proud of the routine we have put together and it was done because of their hard work and dedication to this team. “
We give our thanks to Ms. Ingalls for being a great interviewee.