Caitlyn Rosellini Offers New Perspective on Cheer


Last month, Tatler published an article entitled Cheer: Outdated or Due for a Comeback? Some in Lakeside’s community were especially interested in this topic. One of those people was Caitlyn Rosellini, upper school administrative assistant. Ms. Rosellini reached out to Tatler, offering to describe her view of Cheerleading based on her experiences. Ms. Rosellini contributes a unique perspective of cheerleading that not many at Lakeside have likely heard. She highlights that cheer can strengthen things like camaraderie among those on the field and off of it, competition and teamwork through a non-traditional environment, and most importantly, school spirit. 

Ms. Rosellini begins by responding directly to some of what was said in Cheer: Outdated of Due for a Comeback? She refers to quotes in this article from Coach Hartley, explaining that she thinks Lakeside has some blind spots when it comes to cheer. She prefaces by saying that she thinks Coach Hartley has done much for Lakeside and our athletic environment. However, in this article, she sees a common but somewhat misleading attitude towards cheer: “People are so quick to say ‘Oh, this marginalizes women,’ or ‘Oh, we don’t want our girls out there jumping around in little skirts,’ or ‘Oh, we don’t want them to be on display just for the boys teams,’ and I don’t disagree with those things. But I think that sometimes when people say those things they are so quick to step in and say ‘Let me protect you from this’ rather than saying ‘How can we push back against this?’.” 

Ms. Rosellini addresses the concerns that often come before a productive conversation about cheer, such as that it doesn’t fit with Lakeside’s values because it enforces gender roles or sexualizes females. Ms. Rosellini brings up the point that, “Instead of saying that, or just that being the answer to why we don’t have a cheer team, why don’t we have a discussion about how saying that can reinforce it, rather than trying to find a way to bridge the gap?” She points out that cheer didn’t actually start as a primarily female and often sexualized sport. It began back when universities were all male, so cheer was all male as well. Society created the stigma and sexualization around cheer that many are so afraid of today. Another concern that some have is that gender stereotypes are too ingrained in cheer’s history for it to fit with Lakeside’s goals. To this, Ms. Rosellini adds that “I think those routes can be kind of interesting to look back on and, and say, you know, this actually isn’t how it always was. And it doesn’t have to be how it always is. And why don’t we just have a conversation about it?”

Ms. Rosellini goes on to disagree with Coach Hartley’s statement that cheer is just “a squad with the main purpose of cheering on another team.” Instead, she stresses that the benefits of cheer are irrefutable. One reason that cheer is a vital part of a school environment is the opportunity it presents for students who want to be involved at school but aren’t interested in or don’t enjoy more “traditional sports.” She explains that she was one of those students, and “cheerleading was such a good and fun way to get involved and stay active, and feel like part of a team.” 

Cheerleading creates this unique team environment, for those students who wouldn’t otherwise find and be a part of it.

In addition, the use of the word “squad” instead of “team”, in her experience, is incorrect. Ms. Rosellini explains that “the word ‘team’, even though it seems really small, is a very empowering thing for a group of people who are working together and who are athletes at the end of the day.” On the other hand, “squad” implies that cheer is informal and more of an activity than an actual sport. Her experience has proven the very opposite: cheerleading creates a unique team environment for those students who wouldn’t otherwise find and be a part of one. This also gives students the opportunity to form relationships they wouldn’t otherwise have. “There’s just such strong relationships that are built in teams”, says Ms. Rosellini, “and one thing that makes me wonder about the Lakeside community is, are we missing giving students the opportunity to join something that’s a little bit different. And if there is interest, then why not provide that?” There are certain bonds that are forged when a bunch of people, like athletes, train and work hard together, and then both succeed and fail together. “I think the team aspect, the relationships, the support, the collaboration that comes from working together in my experience in high school, are what really do fit the Lakeside values and norms.” Creating an environment like that for students who don’t participate in traditional “sports,” Ms. Rosellini argues, is something invaluable.  

Ms. Rosellini also echoes a concern that many have heard at Lakeside: a concern of school spirit and camaraderie. Some at Lakeside think that we lack the enthusiastic and supportive connections between students that makes a school community so fun. Firstly, she shares that in her experience, the dynamic created between the cheer team and the sports teams that they cheered for, was one that benefited her school’s community. She states that this dynamic is “Camaraderie that wouldn’t have been here between students, had that relationship not been there between teams.”

 Further, she talks about how much it could do for Lakeside’s school spirit, which some say is lacking. “There is one cheer that I’ve heard us do at convocation every year, and there doesn’t seem to be a really passionate student section. [This] could be my own bias, but I think that there is something to be said for a group of people who are excited about their school, who want to drum up some excitement in the crowd, and who want to make the people on the court or field feel supported.” Ms. Rosellini urges that cheer could be the push that our spirit needs. There is an inherently good feeling that comes from knowing people support you, and are excited about you doing something that you love. The excitement that would come from a bunch of Lakesiders coming together passionately to support our athletes as they work their hardest for athletic success, can be very powerful.“I see everyone dressing up for spirit for their teams,” says Ms. Rosellini, “and like [the spirit] is there, I think it’s just not harnessed.” Cheer could be the boost that Lakeside’s spirit needs.