Ask any alum about what symbolizes Deerfield’s spirit and you’ll get a variety of answers – the door, the Athletic Center D, or the horse’s head. But none compare to the coveted Cheerleader sweater. Putting on one of the “surprisingly not itchy” sweaters, as described by Ingrid Matteini ’21, makes you instantly recognizable.
For generations, Deerfield has looked to Cheerleaders to hype up our games and keep crowds rowdy. But COVID-19 has impacted every inch of this campus. Age-old traditions no longer comply with the healthy Deerfield guidelines, and the cheerleaders, like everyone else, are struggling to keep spirits high.
For returning students, the low morale was made even more apparent by Choate Day, or the lack of one. Last year, Deerfield displayed its athletic prowess by posting one of the most successful game-day records against our rivals in recent history that included the first victory in football for over a decade.
“I think what really hurt us the most was how last year’s Choate week we were having so much fun and now here we are having done little to nothing that week,” said Captain Deerfield Charlie Sinnott ’21.
Since students on campus could not intermingle this year, athletes competed in ‘Green & White Scrimmages.’ Senior Cheerleader Claire Cummings ’21 said, “I’m really proud of how the athletes have bought into their green and white scrimmages and really tried to make it as close as possible to real games. I think it is disappointing for cheerleaders, fans, athletes alike to not have those experiences that we’ve all looked forward to for so long and known to make us Deerfield.”
When asked what the student body could do to help increase morale, Senior Cheerleader John O’Loughlin ’21 said, “In terms of the students, they need to buy in.” The phrase “buying in” can be used in Deerfield culture to characterize devout participation in, and fervent support for the traditions, cheers, and crowds.
Head Cheerleader Tyler Mudd ’21 agreed saying that by “buying into Deerfield and it’s traditions, we can make this year as normal as possible.”
The Cheerleaders have been working on ideas with the administration that can get everyone hyped while complying with Healthy Deerfield guidelines.
“Instead of doing large rallies, we might gather each squad separately in a large space,” Sinnott said. He explained that there are events on the horizon to make the winter months more exciting.
“I’ve heard talks of winter term there will be certain rules that’ll allow us to move to even further phases, which will allow us to do even more,” Sinnott said. “Hopefully, by springtime, we’ll be at a point where we can play other schools.” Depending on factors outside the school’s control, Deerfield may be able to advance to further reopening stages in the future.
There is a long journey ahead, and the terrain is unpredictable—but by keeping hope, Deerfield can still thrive during these uncertain times. In the words of our Captain Deerfield, “Take what we have now, embrace it, and make the best of it.”