Notably absent along the sidelines and in the bleachers of Bison football’s Sept. 4 game was a group of energetic, peppy girls.
The Buffalo High School cheer team won’t be around at the next home game, and probably not the one after that, but it will surely be making an appearance before year’s end.
Last spring, coach Laurie Anderson resigned from BHS, cheer captain Anna Berry graduated, another member of the four-girl team moved away, and the future of the squad seemed dismal.
The program was one that had been fought for, was controversial in its infancy and had just begun to build momentum in the stands.
With the first day of school creeping closer and closer, BHS foreign languages teacher Tracie Kirven knew her skills and expertise as a former cheerleader could help the young program continue to grow, so she signed up as coach.
Now several weeks into practice, the squad is made up of four fresh faces, though completely inexperienced, which means moves and cheers won’t be seen on the sidelines until possibly basketball season.
“When you start with an entire new set of girls, you’re teaching the absolute basics … so we’re working a lot on motions and movements and learning how to be synchronized and crisp,” Kirven said.
Though Kirven has been out of the cheer game for about a decade, her résumé includes being a member of her high school squad and going on to both cheer for and coach the team at Montana State University-Billings.
“This is something I love and I’ve always loved cheerleading, so I’m hoping our program builds over time; we have a long road ahead, but I’d love to see Buffalo High School have a competitive cheerleading team,” she said.
Former BHS cheerleader Samantha Farris has been on hand to help with coaching nightly practices, and Kirven is still working on building up numbers by recruiting a few of the girls who are currently in the midst of fall sport season.
“A lot of hard work went into building a cheer program here,” Kirven said.
“They’ve been using the motions of the school song for five years, and there’s cheers they’ve taught the audience, the band and student section already knows them. … I really want to honor the tradition that Laurie Anderson and the previous cheerleading girls set up.”
The cheer squad operates under a different setup than most other sports because the girls work through fall and winter sport seasons.
Kirven said that one difference this year is letting the girls split seasons if they have other sporting commitments, so where previously they would try out in May and be on the squad through March, they now have a little more flexibility.
“For now our big goal, before we make a debut, is to know 20 cheers and have them synchronized, to know the band dances and the school song dances, and to be able to perform them well,” she said.