ZYFL Cheer Program Builds Confidence and a Sense of Teamwork in a Fun Environment

Writer / Michelle Kaufman
Photography Provided

Nearly 200 members of the Zionsville Youth Football League (ZYFL) cheerleading squad recently wrapped up their season on the sidelines. Each weekend, the girls showed off their skills and supported their peers on the football field.

For the second year in row, several of the girls had the option of extending their season and competing. On November 4, two ZYFL cheer teams took first place and a third team took second at the Indy CrossRoads competition held at Zionsville Community High School (ZCHS).ZYFL Cheer

“Cheerleading is a really amazing sport where we don’t have a bench,” says Director Liz Morehouse. “Everybody has a role, everybody has a job, and I believe because of that, we have a place for everyone. With the girls, we’re really trying to coach from a positive place and make sure that they are having fun, because cheerleading is fun.”

ZYFL is open to kids entering kindergarten through sixth grade. Volunteer coaches help the cheerleaders learn about teamwork, spirit, memorization and more, while also making time to be silly.

“Ten of our teams practice on the same night at Mulberry Fields,” says Assistant Director Angela Jones. “It is loud. There’s a lot of giggling. It’s come one, come all. We want all girls in the community to have this experience and gain that confidence.”

Cheerleaders do not have to try out and are placed on squads based on age. This year they got the chance to perform at ZCHS’s tailgate, Eagle Fest, and the Fall Festival parade.

“Parents who have volunteered to coach also have to learn the material in order to teach the girls, and not a lot of them have a background in cheer,” Jones says. “Having moms dancing for the first time in many years creates friendships. The overall atmosphere is just a lot of fun. We’re trying to make sure that we are empowering the girls within themselves, but also within the community.”

Jones, a ZYFL mom and former cheerleader, coaches the fourth-grade team, while Morehouse coaches the first-graders. The coaches have seen cheerleaders grow in confidence and skills such as cartwheels. This year they brought in ZCHS’s cheerleading coach and a stunt team for a clinic to help build the coaches’ confidence in teaching the girls.

“The ones who stayed on to compete with us, they really started to realize how fun stunting can be when we started trying some arabesqueZYFL Cheer stunts in an early competition practice,” Morehouse says. “Now, that’s in their competition routine and they’re super proud of it.”

Nearly 100 girls are in kindergarten or first grade, and both women say they’re excited for what the future holds, both through ZYFL and at Zionsville schools.

“I can’t wait to see what we’re able to do,” Morehouse says. “We’re just trying to provide a foundation that the middle schools and the high school can build on so they can eventually win state just like the football side of the house can.”

The team’s next season will begin this summer with a camp in mid-July. After camp, practice is once per week. For more information, go to zyfl.net/cheerleading or email zyflcheerleading@gmail.com.

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