Exchange student takes on cheerleading


Kati Blaylock

In order to support the team senior Cecilia Merlini cheers to the crowd. Merlini is the first foreign exchange student to be on the cheer team.

Libby Crawford, Reporter

NHS is facing challenging and unprecedented times in many ways, one of which is welcoming the first foreign exchange student onto the cheerleading team for the 2020-2021 school year. Due to exchange students missing tryouts in the spring and the summer practices, this has never been done before, but was never a set rule. 

With new coaches this school year, head coach Krystyna Botterweck and assistant coach Ashley Nottingham, agreed to invite Cecilia Merlini onto the junior varsity (JV) cheer squad. With a short time before the first JV game Merlini had to learn all the new chants and cheers along with stunting very quickly. 

“I took into consideration the existing team’s feelings since they put in all the work for the tryouts and all summer and to have someone just walk in and be on the team,” Botterweck said. “I wanted to make sure there was not going to be any hard feelings.”

In Italy, where Merlini is from, there are not cheerleaders, therefore Merlini wanted to try something new. Merlini said that learning cheers without perfect english can be difficult. 

“I’m glad that I decided to go out for the team because we don’t have cheerleaders in Italy,” Merlini said. “I’ve gotten lots of help from the other cheerleaders.” 

Botterweck voices that coming to a new school can be scary let alone coming to a new country, and therefore they wanted to make her coming here a little easier by allowing her to join the team. 

“The team took a vote and decided that if any of them were to go to a foreign country they would want to have the same opportunity,” Botterweck said. 

The cheer has spent the last few weeks reviewing cheers and stunting for the virtual pep assembly. Merlini also participated in her first JV football game on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. 

“She [Merlini] has caught up with the rest of the team very quickly, I’m excited to see how the rest of the year will go,” Botterweck said.

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