It takes a different kind of person to do something you love for a majority of your life and truly enjoy it despite having others constantly discredit the time and effort you put in.
DuBois senior Marlee Wood is one of those people, having been a cheerleader well before her high school days and continuing to be one all four years she attended DAHS.
“I wish the stereotype of ‘cheer isn’t a sport’ and ‘cheer is so easy’ would go away,” said Wood. “Cheer is a sport and is very difficult, especially competition cheer. It takes just as much work as other sports like football or baseball. Just because we make it look easy, doesn’t mean it is.”
Wood began cheering at the age of 5 and has done it ever since. At the high school level, she has competed in both versions of cheering offered by DuBois — sideline cheer (at sporting events) and competition cheer, which is formally known as competitive spirit and is a PIAA-sanctioned sport. She earned two varsity letters in each.
“I prefer competition cheer over sideline. I believe it is more fun and less repetitive,” said Wood. “The biggest difference to me is the difficulty. Competition cheer requires much more skill and determination. I also think there are more opportunities in competition such as the state championships.”
And like other sports in high school, cheerleading features “open gyms” and a full practice week once the season begins.
“During preseason for competition (cheer), we have open gyms to focus on learning and teaching the underclassmen new skills,” said Wood. “There isn’t much of a training period for sideline cheer, but practice is five days a week every week for both sports,. Sometimes competition cheer has weekend practices when we don’t have competitions.
“My favorite memory is qualifying for the state championships for competition cheer. It’s so much fun and such a great opportunity to bond with my teammates and my coaches.”
DuBois qualified for the PIAA competitive spirit championships twice — 2018 and 2019 — during Wood’s time in the program.
In 2018, DuBois captured one of the three at-large invites at the District 9 Championships to reach Hershey. The Lady Beavers finished second in the Medium Varsity Division (16-20 squad members that year) with score of 55 points.
A year later, DuBois again earned an at-large bid to states by posting one of the five best scores (71.43 points) at the D-9 Championships. The Lady Beavers actually placed third in the Medium Division that year.
With her cheer seasons being in the fall and winter, Wood wasn’t among the large group of athletes who missed out on spring sports when they were cancelled because of COVID-19 but did miss out on other school-related activities.
“I think it is very sad,” said Wood. “I didn’t have to miss out on any of my sports, but I feel bad for the students that did. Also, missing out on the end of the year senior activities is very disappointing and something I will never forget.”
Outside of cheerleading, Wood was a member of the National Honor Society all four years of high school and also participated in Physics Club.
Wood, the daughter of Scott and Rhonda Wood, has an older brother who competed in track and field while in high school.
After graduation, Wood will attend Lock Haven University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She doesn’t plan to cheer in college so she can focus completely on her education.