Numbers game: No JV football team forces Polk cheer squads to alter plans
Published 11:46 am Monday, August 14, 2023
Polk County cheerleading coach Elisa Flynn has found herself in a most unexpected dilemma.
What to do with a squad of cheerleaders and no team for which to cheer?
The decision by the Wolverine football program to not field a junior varsity team this fall left Flynn’s JV squad without an option to perform on Thursday nights. That scenario wasn’t one that Polk County’s varsity squad wanted to see happen, so the group, Flynn and her coaches are working to find a means to make the best of the unfortunate situation and include the 14 JV cheerleaders in their Friday night efforts.
“The jayvees will be involved somehow on Friday nights,” Flynn said. “I appreciate the varsity taking in the JV cheerleaders, treating them well and working with them.”
The varsity squad of 20 includes 16 seniors; leaving the JVs on the sidelines would have left next year’s squad with little experience. Largely to prevent that, those seniors pushed to find some means to keep the JV team active.
“I am so proud and honored to be a part of this senior class’s leadership for sharing their varsity season with the JV team,” said Polk County athletic director DeShane Briscoe. “They have shown it’s not what you take, but what you leave behind that defines greatness. With most of the varsity team graduating, they wanted to keep the Polk County cheer tradition alive.”
Polk County head football coach Dustin Fry would greatly prefer to keep JV football alive as well. But with just approximately 40 kids and a coaching staff of four in the program at present, the math didn’t add up to fielding two teams.
“When we’re sitting at (40) kids, with a lot of freshmen, and four coaches, if I had any anxiety it was trying split a squad with four coaches and those kids and try to be successful,” Fry said. “Sometimes you throw those kids to the wolves, and they get smoked their freshmen year and they don’t want to come back.
“I feel like being able to come in and keep everybody in that same locker room, build that culture, let the word get out about how things are run here and what’s happening, hopefully, we can get our numbers up. Believe me, I can’t wait to have a JV team. I’m all about a JV team. But this year, with what we have numbers, with what we have coaches, it’s just not smart. It’s not good for the kids.”
Flynn has heard other creative suggestions for the JV squad, including having them cheer at soccer matches. She’s still working to find the best path forward but does know she’ll have all 34 cheerleaders traveling that route with her.
“The varsity team wants to leave Polk County cheerleading in a better place than where they found it,” Flynn said. “Keeping the JVs involved is just part of that.”