Jackson Cheer Team Honored

Younger members of the Jackson Jaguars Cheer Team participate in a recent competition. (Photo courtesy Jackson Youth Football and Cheer Team)

  JACKSON – Members of the Jackson Youth Football and Cheer Team were honored recently by the governing body during the latest Township Council meeting.

  Mayor Michael Reina presented a proclamation to two divisions of the Cheer Team. Each member received a certificate.

  Cheer Coordinator Shanna Ketelaar spoke with The Jackson Times about how the team operates, their activities and how it has helped build community spirit in the township.

  Jackson Youth Football and Cheer had four competitive cheer teams this year. They first competed in October for a local competition called Jersey Shore. “Both our D8 and D12 teams came in first place. The second competition takes place in November,” Ketelaar said.

  She explained, “this is our regional competition known as the Big East competition. This competition determines which teams will move onto the National Competition. You must place in the top three teams to move onto nationals. Both our D8 and D12 teams placed first in this competition as well.”

The Jackson Jaguars Cheer Team shows grace, poise and agility during a recent competition. (Photo courtesy Jackson Youth Football and Cheer Team)

  “The nationals competition took place December 6-11 in Kissimmee, Florida. Both our D8 and D12 teams took home the National Titles. D stands for division. The number after is the maximum age of the cheerleader on the team. Our D8 team is made up of 6, 7 and 8-year-old girls. There are 27 girls on this team with a coaching staff of six,” she added.

  Ketelaar further explained, “there are also four juniors’ demos (high school girls who assist with the team who have since moved out of the program). Our D12 team is made up of 10, 11, and 12-year-old girls. This team consists of 22 girls with a coaching staff of five and two junior demos.”

  The organization is currently in its spring season which will run until May. Ketelaar said, “we use this time for learning new skills and conditioning. We have five teams right now for our spring season.”

  Ketelaar said that during their fall season, “which is our competitive season that kicks off in July, we cheer for football then focus on our competitions. We are expecting to have eight teams for the fall again. Flag, Mites, Game Day Only, D8, D10, D12, and D14.”

  “As they move up, they are doing different things,” she added. The younger divisions don’t generally compete. “There is a flag expo where they put on a little demonstration for their parents and as they move up to Mites they go more into the weekend games. They don’t compete but they will expo at a local competition. It helps build them up to what they will get to. Our Game Day Only is what we call our transitional team, girls coming out Flag and Mites can either go the competition route or they can go Game Day Only.”

Members of the Jackson Jaguars Cheer Team D8 Division assemble with their coaches as they hold up their certificates during a Township Council meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “We only have one Game Day Only team and they are mix of all these age girls who want to cheer at football games and do some sideline cheers and keep it nice and fun, super easy non-competitive – basically what you see at a high school football game,” Ketelaar said.

  The remaining teams go into divisions regulated by their age. She said, “they all are in a four-year gap. The majority of our D8 team were actually 7 (years old).”

  Ketelaar added, “we like to encourage parent interaction and we also like to see the kids branch out on their own. What we have seen is that by having parents there 24/7 doesn’t allow the child to do that. When we start our program in July it is all outside practices, then we transition two nights a week outdoors and two nights a week indoors.”

The D12 Division of the Jackson Jaguars Cheer Team pose with their certificates at Jackson Town Hall after receiving a proclamation from the mayor and council for their accomplishments this season. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “We always encourage the parents to come to the outdoor practices and watch the girls in action. When we move indoors, we do a closed practice which allows us to keep the girls’ attention and also allows us to see a different side of the girls,” she said.

  Ketelaar noted, “boys are always welcome. We would love to have our first male cheerleader.”

  For further information on the organization visit jackson-jaguars.org/