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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Behind the Bow: Cheerleaders Maddy Serpas and Francie Smith Reflect on Leadership

Lilah Schlanger
Smiling wide, Maddy Serpas ’24 and Francie Smith ’24 pose for a photo before practice. The two Game Day Leaders have led the team through a successful year through their leadership and example.

Behind the ruffling of pom poms and enthusiastic smiles, two leaders coordinate and organize Westwood cheer. The job of game day leader is no small task for any cheer member, but Maddy Serpas ‘24 and Francie Smith ‘24 have taken the challenge in stride.

Despite the fact that Serpas and Smith got their start in different ways and both have a love for cheer that has stayed strong throughout their four years on the team. Serpas wasn’t initially interested in cheer, however some convincing from her middle school coach, Kalee Criner, led her to begin her six-year-long path in middle school and high school cheer. For Smith, cheer was her childhood dream and has been her goal since she was little. Smith started cheering at Central Holmes Christian School at nine.

“As a little kid I always saw the cheerleaders on the sidelines and I was like I want to do that,” Smith said.

Having both been in cheer for so long Serpas and Smith have shown immense growth from where they started and now can reflect on how cheer has led them to the places they are now, and how it has affected them. Both have considered their experience in cheer and how it’s contributed to their time as a leader.

“[Cheer is] definitely a learning experience,” Serpas said. ”It’s something you learn a lot from physically and mentally.”

As Serpas and Smith went through their years in cheer, they grew to be the leaders they are today. They set an example of what it means to be a cheerleader for the team to look up to.

“It’s good to be that role model for people,” Smith said.

Game day leader responsibilities include a variety of things like keeping the team on the same page, making sure game day and competition props like their signs, megaphones, and flags make it on and off the bus, and notifying the team of any practice, time, outfit, and location changes.

“It feels nice being a secondhand to the coaches and making their lives a little bit easier,” Serpas said.

It’s not all work though Serpas and Smith enjoyed adding some spirit to the team’s game day attire like changing up the designated hair for the game and embellishing on certain parts of the outfits on game days to match the student section. Making changes to attire helps promote team spirit and get the team even more excited about game days.

“We always bought theme stuff for the game and did glitter,” Smith said. “I think getting to make games just a little more fun was one of my favorite parts.”

Keeping a team organized is bound to bring on some struggles but this pair of leaders have overcome them and changed to bring the team together and ensure everyone looks well put together on game days, competitions, and various showcases both look and performance-wise.

“The hardest part is drawing the line between friends and authority,” Serpas said. “You don’t want to come across as rude or anything like that. It’s just more like you’re looking out for the team and some people take that wrong.

Leading a team of so many different backgrounds is a challenge. It’s essential for the leaders to keep some things in mind.

“It’s just patience and understanding that everyone learns at a different pace,” Smith said. “Also everyone is human, everyone is going to have their emotions about stuff so just be mindful of that.”

The pair each have their strengths that complement each other quite well. Serpas brings an important social aspect to her leadership position. She’s not afraid to speak up and point out an issue but she also can be a trusted friend to have fun with. Smith brings good organizational skills and is on top of things that need to be done.

“I’m not the kind to yell at people so that’s where we balance each other out,” Smith said.

No matter what the case is, Smith and Serpas hope to leave lasting legacy that will be felt for years to come.

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About the Contributor
Lilah Schlanger
Lilah Schlanger, Reporter
Class of 2025
Hi! I like writing and design. I'm very happy to be apart of student press! I enjoy cheerleading, being with my friends and family, and listening to music.

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