Wednesday, 28 October 2020 12:50

Richmond cheerleading set to return to workouts next week

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Several returning cheerleaders, pictured here during a game against Butler last season, will begin workouts next week. Several returning cheerleaders, pictured here during a game against Butler last season, will begin workouts next week. Jimmy McDonald — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Friday nights on the football field aren’t complete without the Richmond Senior High School cheerleading team.

Sidelined since the end of basketball season in February due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lady Raider cheer team will return to action next week.

Varsity coach Meredith Hood, who has been the head of the program since 2012, announced Tuesday that the team will hold workouts for any interested cheerleader grades nine through 12 starting Wednesday, Nov. 4.

There will be four days of workouts (Nov. 4 and 5; Nov. 9 and 10) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by an official tryout on Thursday, Nov. 12. New this season will be a panel of judges that will assess the cheerleaders based on a set of criteria to determine the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams.

Hood explained the workouts and tryouts will be held outdoors at Richmond to allow for there to be up to 50 participants, per the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s COVID-19 guidelines.  

In order to participate, all interested cheerleaders must complete the necessary paperwork ahead of time by visiting

“The returners and I got together a few times right before school started to see what cheer would look like before bringing new girls in,” Hood said. “At that point we decided to wait until tryouts to begin.

“This year is sad. It’s not the same and really awkward,” she added of not being on the sidelines this fall. “I love my girls and we have missed being together this summer.”

Like the Raider football team, the cheerleaders are active throughout the summer months to gear up for the football and basketball seasons. Due to the pandemic, the Lady Raiders weren’t able to host their annual cheer camp in July, which also serves as their biggest fundraiser. 

Hood and her team also didn’t get to travel to the University of North Carolina and participate in the school’s summer clinic. That annual camp is one of the best ways for the Richmond cheerleaders to improve their routine.

“We didn’t get to have Raider cheer camp and all the sweet little girls that we look so forward to seeing year after year,” Hood said. “We missed cheer camp at UNC where we would learn new skills like stunts, pyramids, transitional stunts and most of all, the team bonding while we’re there.

“It’s a really tough few days (at camp) and they have to push through it to learn how to lean on each other and work together as a team.”

When the team gets together in the coming weeks, cheerleaders and coaches will have to abide by NCHSAA guidelines. Temperatures will need to be taken before each workout, social distancing will be enforced and the cheerleaders will have to work in the same small groups each time.

The restrictions also hamper the team’s ability to perform and practice new stunts, something currently barred due to the virus. 

“As of now, we are not allowed to stunt,” Hood explained. “This will make things more difficult. It will be hard to choose positions and see who fits in what group if they are not allowed to stunt.

“But we will be learning cheers and chants, dances and jumps.”

The high school football season is set to begin in February, which will kick off a spring full of interscholastic sports. Right now, however, Hood said she’s excited to get the team back together to prepare for the upcoming basketball season, which will start in January.  


“We all can’t wait to get back to normal,” she closed. “We can’t wait to have a real season with stunts and pyramids and interact with the crowd.”

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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