DV Cheer’s team-centric environment sets up current and future cheerleaders for success


Rishvanth (Rishi) Ramesh

DVHS Cheer gets ready to celebrate the football team with peppy spirit and loud cheers.

High ponytails, bright smiles, and a peppy atmosphere all contribute to how Dougherty Valley students view the cheerleaders, but there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. With their strong team morals, traditions, bondings and diverse training routine, there is a culture to the team that most students have never seen. 

This environment is fostered mainly by Varsity Cheer coach Salonia Harper, who has been a cheerleader herself at Dougherty. Dedicated to the sport, she completed four years of cheerleading in high school and three years of stunt, and then went on to Cheer in college and circled back to the sport as a career. 

Due to her own Cheer experience, Harper was able to build a coaching style that she found effective in creating useful team ethics and principles. 

“[Some values taught are] discipline, responsibility, accountability. I coach pretty strict … I’d say I have a lot of rules, and a lot of expectations,” Harper explained.

Harper’s goal in instilling these values in her cheerleaders is a lesson for their future so they can apply the morals taught by her in their daily lives outside of the Cheer. 

“If I didn’t do Cheer in high school and didn’t go on to Cheer in college, I don’t think I would have a lot of the skills I have now. I’m pretty adaptable. I can pick up things really fast. And being a cheerleader, you do that … and you have kind of a go-getter mentality,” Harper said. 

The skills that Harper demonstrates and teaches not only make the cheerleaders  better teammates and cheerleaders, but they also allow them to gain a healthy and productive work mentality that will help them in the future, even if they do not continue to cheer after high school. 

Senior Caroline Hidde has been a part of Cheer since she was four years old. Being one of the older Cheer members, she has learned a lot from cheer and played a large role in cultivating the team-centric atmosphere that DV Cheer has today. 

“Cheer has taught me a lot not just skill-wise, but important life skills like communication, leadership, teamwork and learning to never give up,” Hidde said. 

Sophomore Macie Henderson, a JV cheerleader, further elaborates on the atmosphere of the team. 

“We’re like a big family, even with us being in different grades and ages,” Henderson said. 

Because of this, the cheerleaders have traditions and team bondings that help unify them both on and off the field.

“We do a lot of team bonding events which are mostly us just socializing or hanging out …  before games we just like to play music together and mess around,” Henderson said. 

It can take a while for other cheerleaders to get situated into the DV Cheer atmosphere, but luckily for the new cheerleaders, upperclassmen like Hidde are willing to take them under their wing.

“I plan on encouraging underclassmen to try out; cheer is a lot of fun and teaches you a lot of life lessons,” Hidde stated.

The transition to high school cheerleading is difficult for many athletes, but the collaborative environment nurtured by Coach Harper and the older cheerleaders ensures that these younger cheerleaders are set up for success, ready to jump, tumble and roll into the future.