Flyer Maddie Rhodes is held by bases Lauren Seibert (second from left), Ashlyn Grant and Alex Wilkins during a recent cheer practice in the Stock Activities Center, while Evynn Roberson (left) and Tyra Morris look on.

The Cody cheer squad will have an equal mix of returners and newcomers this season.

There are 18 girls out, with nine newcomers and nine returners.

“This is the largest team that I have had since coaching here in Cody,” coach Brittany Schumacher said. “Even with all of the new athletes this season, it does not seem like we have missed a beat since ending last season. We have more tumblers than ever before and will be advancing our stunts as well.”

Back this year is Leiawna Varian, Alex Wilkins, Evynn Roberson, Maddie Rhodes, Blair Brengle, Jasmine McCann, Izzy Ramirez, Lindsay Arnold and Samantha Struemke.

“Things are going really great,” Varian said. “This team is definitely strong and it will be exciting to see what the season brings.”

This year because of COVID-19, the team was not able to begin practices as early as previous years, so Schumacher began giving the girls workouts that could be completed at home.

“My goal in this was to also get them in the habit and routine of working out at least three to four times a week,” Schumacher said.

Wilkins said each girl is to run two miles during the week. They also complete workouts focusing on flexibility, strength and improve individual skills like jumping.

“I got to Beck Lake to run and our workouts focus on things like jumping, core or legs,” Wilkins said.

Schumacher feels any additional strength training will only help the group later on.

“The workouts and running outside of practice have been helping tremendously, not only in their physical strength but their mental strength as well,” she said. “I now have several girls who are running everyday because of this habit we have now created.”

The group began practice about a month ago, but social distancing restrictions meant they could only focus on cheers, dances and conditioning.

“Everyone’s picking things up quickly and we have a lot of cheers down already,” Wilkins said.

In the last few weeks, they were approved to begin working on stunting.

“Practices have been going very well so far,” Schumacher said. “We are able to stunt now, so the girls have been knocking out the basics and progressing with every practice.”

Stunting is a favorite for many on the team.

“I used to fly and it was really fun,” Varian said. “Now I’m a base and I like that too. It’s fun learning new stunts and trying to get better.”

Wilkins is looking forward to being able to do more.

“We’re way bigger so we have more stunting groups this year,” she said.

The Fillies will be able to show off their skills during the home football opener on Sept. 4.

“Every start of the season there are nerves but we try hard, so it shouldn’t be too bad,” Wilkins said. “There’s always things we need to work on though.”

The season is long, with the group also cheering during basketball in the winter before finishing at the state spirit competition in March. Last year at state, the Fillies finished seventh but the group feels confident it’ll be able to improve its finish.

“The team is bonding and coming together very well, considering all of the restrictions we have,” Schumacher said. “The motivation and drive that this team has is contagious. I am very excited for this year and what these girls will accomplish.”

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