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New cheer coach embraces pandemic challenges

By Thomas Ranson Nevada News Group
Fallon's cheerleading squad adjusts to the pandemic guidelines with mask wearing and social distancing during stretches.
Provided by Joyce Lund

After cheering on the teams when Fallon competed in the 4A and assisting the most recent cheer squads, Joyce Lund takes over the Greenwave as her squad prepares for the abbreviated football and basketball seasons.

“I went from being bombarded with hugs or girls bouncing around with all the new news they want to tell me every practice to just a slight little hand wave now,” Lund said of the transition. “Last year, cheer was an escape, a place where they could be around friends, act silly and just be happy. Now the real world is at the forefront of all things we do, being in a mask is a constant reminder for them. Add on that they are not allowed to be close to their friends, no hugs, no high fives. It just brings the atmosphere down.”

After conducting tryouts and finalizing her varsity and junior varsity squads, Lund has been juggling routine practice and COVID-19 restrictions – nothing she expected to deal with during her first year on the job. And she’s trying to inject as much positivity into the situation as possible.

“They are so excited to be there and just want to jump right into practice as they normally would last year, but I have to remind them that we can’t and it brings the girls back down back to the sad real world,” Lund said about the new guidelines that need to be followed, including social distancing and masks. “I can hardly tell if the girls are smiling from their masks being on. I miss having them be able to express themselves freely as they would.”

Stunting has been the biggest hit with the restrictions. 

Lund, who owns Etcherly, a custom-design service, said distancing doesn’t allow for stunting because the cheerleaders are in proximity of one another. It’s forced Lund and her squad to get creative in finding other ways to build on their team bonding.

“These ladies absolutely love the stunting aspect of cheer so to get that taken away is extremely hard for them,” Lund said. “Stunting is where all the fun is. It is the most physical and requires the most effort. They test their strengths and their team-building skills by working together as one. They treat their stunt pods as a family because of the trust you build in your group. So, to lose that because of distancing has to be one of the biggest downfalls of the year for my girls, hands down.”

Treating the team like a big family is the goal for Lund and what she hopes will help her girls move past the effects from the pandemic.

“I want them to have something that they can look forward to, something to be proud of, and want to be a part of as well as being a distraction from life,” she said. “I am looking forward to how we will have to change up our routines, how they will look with no stunting in them, and how the girls will work with our new guidelines. It’s forcing me and these girls to be creative and that just leaves room for growth within us all, which is a win-win in my book.”

When sports resume in January with the winter season, Lund’s squad will be on the baseline ready to cheer on the Greenwave. Lund, though, is unsure how the fall season will play out because of its start date in February with temperatures on the polar end of a traditional fall season. She’s just happy that her squad will get a chance to be on the court and field this school year. 

“I understand why they are having the seasons the way they are and I think it is awesome that the kids will all be able to play each major sport as they ‘normally’ would get to,” she said. “Is the plan perfect? Not exactly. But I also believe that a lot of thought went into this and I appreciate that we are still having sports happen in general. It sure is going be a gnarly winter and spring for these kids, and I’m excited to see how they will make it happen. And honestly, I’m also excited to see what football in March is going to be like.”