In the face of adversity, the Sealy varsity cheerleading team held virtual tryouts last Friday morning after new head coach Taylor Rosenauer had to push back the tryout dates multiple times before settling on the live video conference tryout.
“I kept having to push it back, it was supposed to be right after spring break,” Rosenauer said in a phone interview after the tryouts were finished. “I had to call the parents and say, ‘Sorry we're pushing it back again,’ until finally, I said we need to have tryouts. So, we did zoom tryouts and they each had a link, contestant 1 through 21, and they would hop on and it would be live, but it'd be virtual.”
It didn’t go as smoothly as normal with internet connectivity issues but they understood that wasn’t something they had control over like the facial expressions and spirit they were being judged upon.
“It's definitely doable,” Rosenauer said of online tryouts. “There were some glitches, the music was a little off every now and then but we didn't dock them for that because that's something we can't control, they can’t control that, but it's definitely doable. I do like to do tryouts in person more so than through the iPads that we had out, but we totally did it.”
There were a few differences, starting with the number of judges that were there evaluating the contestants.
Normally, a panel of four judges sees each cheerleader perform individually before the dance portion of the tryout has the athletes come in groups of four. This time around, only two judges virtually assessed each prospective cheerleader and mascot individually.
When asked if that aspect helped or hindered, Rosenauer said, “I think a little bit of both. (Normally in the dance portion,) the judges were able to say, ‘Oh, she got that better than that girl,’ so in that sense, the girls kind of had an advantage.”
Although not all of the sessions took the allotted 10 minutes, Rosenauer found her next squad of 16 cheerleaders and a mascot before noon and she looks forward to this group of student-athletes representing the Sealy Tigers.
“I definitely want them to know that they are ambassadors for our school and for our community and that they are held to a higher standard, whether that's on the field or off the field,” she said. “Grades come first, so no pass no play. I want them to be taken seriously but have fun at the same time; we need to show that we are working hard and that we're not just sideline cheerleaders, we are athletes.”
That group of 17 athletes got together earlier this week, again via zoom, and Coach Rosenauer set the expectations for the offseason now that school won’t be returning to physical session this year.
“I’ll be making sure they are stretching every day, drinking lots of water and working on their jumps,” she said of her message to the team. “They worked hard for these tryouts; I hadn't seen them in a month and I could tell their jumps got better so I want to continue that. Come time when we can meet, whether that be camp or that be next school year, I should not see a drop from what they did at tryouts to where they are then; it should be an increase, if anything.”
Rosenauer took over head coaching duties going into this past basketball season and will take over as head coach this fall and mentioned her excitement for the season also kept her up the night before tryouts.
“I'm really excited, I couldn't sleep last night. I was like a little kid with the first-day-of-school feeling, I was just so nervous, I might have been more nervous than some of the girls even though I had nothing to do with it I was just putting in the scores,” she said last Friday. “I'm just super excited for this next year. We have a great squad coming up; we have returners, we have newbies, everyone has a great attitude, it's just gonna be a great year. Not that that this year wasn't great, but next year will be all new.”