Cheer captains take on leading role as team looks for permanent solution to their coaching absence


Mara Mellits

Cheerleaders cheer at the pep rally, even though they were not able to perform due to not having a permanent coach this year.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

As fans cheered and clapped to the halftime show at this year’s homecoming game, there was one notable exception.

The majorettes, band and dance team all put on their usual, grand displays, but other than a few flips, absent from the festivities was the usual halftime performance from the cheer team.

For senior cheer captain Kira Smith, the absence of a performance has been a disappointment.

I think it kind of sucks because this is our senior year, and we can’t perform for hoco which we normally do,” Smith said. 

Not having a homecoming performance is one of multiple difficult challenges that the Lane cheer captains have had to face after their former coach, Maureen Murphy, left this past summer.

Their first challenge was not being able to practice at the school at the start of the season, due to not having a coach.

Luckily for the cheer team, the mom of cheerleader Ellie Bednarz, Cynthia Bednarz, has stepped in as an interim head coach, though mainly just so there is an adult there. 

“She’s a CPS sub so she has many of the requirements needed to sponsor us,” Walling said. “So she has stepped in to just help us out and watch us like we have a practice today, she’ll be there just monitoring what we do. She has no cheer experience but it’s nice to have someone way older than us there.”

While the team has found a temporary replacement, the search for someone to fill the coaching void permanently remains.

Lane’s Athletic Director Nick LoGalbo, who is part of the team responsible for hiring a new coach, told The Champion the school has already interviewed multiple coaches. He said they are probably close to finalizing a candidate.

But, even with a temporary coach and the search process underway, the captains still have had to take on a coaching role.

“It’s kind of hard because it’s like we’re all kids and we’re just like yelling at kids,” Smith said. “But we’re just trying to make sure everybody’s on the same page and understands what they’re doing.”

Smith and Elizabeth Walling, the other captain, plus co-captains Annie Rosenfeld and Allegra Coleman, have had to take on an expanded role.

But even with the captains taking on more responsibilities, the team has still faced multiple setbacks with not having a leader over the age of eighteen. 

One challenge for the team has been connection with younger members of the squad.

Our biggest challenges are with our freshmen,” Smith said. “I mean any new people on the team, they can’t really catch on to us because we’re not coaches so we can’t really guide them as we should be able to.”

With competition season rapidly approaching (tryouts are scheduled for early October), the team still awaits any official news of a new coach. 

A sense of uncertainty hangs in the air for the team heading into tryouts.

Hopefully we’ll have a coach by then but our prior coach, she might be running tryouts, but we don’t know the situation as of now,” Smith said. 

And until they get a new coach, the team will still have a bit of a competitive disadvantage, according to Smith.

I think we will struggle [through competition season],” Smith said. “Because, right, we haven’t had stunt groups and we usually get them in the summer. And we usually practice at another place too but our coach is supposed to come with us so we can’t do it without her, so I think we will struggle a little.”

Despite the possible tumbles the team will take into their competition slate, Walling said the team is trying to turn their attention towards competition season and really focus on it, instead of being caught up on not being able to perform at homecoming.

“It really sucks because we’re seniors,” Walling said. “We all wanted to do our senior dance and have something really cool prepared but with a coach — we would have had all summer to prepare. We didn’t get that,” Walling said. “So I think everyone’s mind right now is just on competition season because we need to get prepared for that.”