SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School football team’s unparalleled success over the last few years remains special and ongoing. While the Broncs look for their fourth straight state title in 2018, their most dedicated supporters stand on the sidelines, endlessly cheering for continued success.
The Sheridan High School cheer team’s seasons have stretched longer than most over the years as they accompany their football team deep into the cold month of November. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It has been great watching our boys strive for what they want and succeeding,” Abby James said. “It’s fun to cheer them on and support them.”
The Lady Broncs cheer and encourage while also showing a little gamesmanship toward the opponent. Each and every year, head coach Stephanie Vela presents each one of the girls with a state football bow to put in the hair.
Every time the Broncs win a state title, Vela scribes ‘state champs’ onto the bow and anytime Sheridan plays Natrona — the runner-up to Sheridan in football — the girls will wear their bows as a subtle reminder of who’s the best on the gridiron.
“We kind of flex on other teams,” Vela said. “… It’s fun to kind of ride [the football team’s] success.”
Vela is quite used to flexing on opposing teams. She cheered for Sheridan in the 1990s when the Broncs won four consecutive state championships.
Vela has coached the Sheridan cheer team for six years, but this past offseason she changed it up a bit. She and the three captains — Abby James, Payton Rott and Kim Solti — attended a leadership training this summer and the benefits of that are already starting to show this season.
Instead of Vela trying to teach the entire team a new routine or dance, she delegates some of those responsibilities to the captains. That allows those leaders to work with small groups, learn things quicker and thus the Lady Broncs have gained much more this offseason.
“This allowed me to just go around and fine tune stuff,” Vela said. “It was much more efficient.”
A typical season entails Sheridan learning about 70 different cheers. Installment of a routine for a football game generally takes a couple weeks.
That process isn’t just the routine, either. The cheer team, just like any other team, puts in time both as a team and individually, acclimating their bodies to the various cheers movements and dances.
“A big part of being on the team is there’s at-home work,” Solti said. “We have over 70 cheers and then all these different stunts and even more dances on top of that, so you have to go home and practice.”
The Lady Broncs break out special routines and dances for homecoming and state football, which all come to a head at the state competition each and every March.
Once that wraps up, it’s back to the practice floor, in April, getting ready for the upcoming season.
“It’s quite a commitment,” Vela said.
But it all gets paid off on Friday nights. Where the football players get amped, nervous and eagerly await each and every game, the cheerleaders experience similar feelings.
“It’s just exciting to be at the field, under the lights and it’s amazing,” Rott said. “You get butterflies in your stomach just thinking about it.”
Those butterflies have hung around until November the past couple years and the Lady Broncs would love nothing more than to support the football team in their chase for a fourth straight state titles — even if it means having to wear their cheer sweaters.