WESTFIELD -The Westfield Technical Academy Cheer Team restarted last year, when, according to member Paige Bixby, “a group of very determined girls got together to form our new cheer team. The idea of a new cheer team spread rapidly through the halls of Westfield Technical Academy, filling many people with excitement and the urge to sign up! For our first year back at it with a brand new cheer team, 20 excellent girls were what made our team a family.”
After countless practices, the team realized that the uniforms left over from the previous cheer team weren’t “going to cut it,” as Bixby put it, and they decided to raise their own money for cheer t-shirts for the season. They started with a fundraiser at Shortstop Restaurant, which raised $200 for the team.
“After a great cheer season, we got to planning, what fundraisers could we do to earn us some more money, and here came our next challenge. COVID came along and unfortunately, fundraising was not a possibility. With so many questions left unanswered we needed to wait for the fall to see what could be done. Would cheer even happen this year?” Bixby wrote.
On Nov. 20, the team was given the all clear to practice by the state guidelines of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). “The email we had been waiting for, for so long finally popped up. ‘Hi WTA students! The cheerleading team was just approved to start practice!’ Very thankful that even through the pandemic, our amazing administrators made it so we could participate in our favorite activity, we got to work,” she said.
The team set up a digital fundraiser on “Snap! Raise” to raise money for new uniforms, shoes for students who couldn’t afford them, and new mats to help them become “the team we know we can be.” The fundraiser, which may be found by going to www.snap-raise.com/v2/fundraisers/westfield-tech-cheer-2020#, went live this past week.
Bixby said the fundraiser could help them to be successful this year and for many years to come. “To get our new mats for safety, cheer uniforms to make us shine, pompoms so we can make some noise, and team apparel so we can show our tiger pride, we are hoping to raise just around $3,000, but our campaign is set at $2,000 to start, with high hopes to exceed,” she said.
Cheer team Coach Victoria Camp, who teaches physical education and health at the school, said Bixby is a senior who has been going above and beyond to make this a great season for the team, even with all of the COVID restrictions and uncertainty for the future. She said she has been reaching out to so many, and a local design business even offered to donate custom made bows for the team.
Unfortunately, just as the fundraiser went live, COVID restrictions tightened, and Camp had to tell the girls that the cheer team would not be permitted at the winter basketball games.
“If we do not get a season this year then the majority of the funds raised will of course still go towards our new uniforms and mats, but I think we will also use it to buy nice senior gifts and team apparel to make this unconventional season a little bit better. It’s so upsetting that we finally started the cheer team back up after years of not having one and then this happens,” Camp said.
“I will continue to host practices to prepare for next year, but this news will hit our four seniors a little bit harder. All that we can do at this point is hope that restrictions change,” Camp said, adding that she was disappointed that while basketball is still able to play, a sport that involves close contact with each other and the ball, cheerleading, which can be done without coming in contact with one another, is not allowed.
“I’m so happy for the basketball players, but the athletes on my team want that opportunity as well,” Camp said.