GREAT FALLS — The crosstown football game between Great Falls High and CMR is set for Friday and usually draws the biggest crowd of the year, and this year there’s one group hoping that continues.
If the sports on the field have been strange this year, it’s been even stranger for the cheerleaders at Great Falls High and CMR thanks to COVID-19. Start with small crowd sizes.
"With the limited number of spectators, and who we're cheering for, we're still there for the team and the fans," said CMR coach Adrienne Culliton. "But the biggest change for us is definitely the lack of students, and the energy and the just the spirit from fans."
Add in facemasks, limited stunts, and restrictions on where they can stand, and you see that spirit squads and coaches have seen the fundamental purpose of their activity challenged this year.
But despite those challenges, they rise up.
"I just try to remember, I'm a Rustler. This is my senior year, and I'm going to try to make it the best that I can," said Ashlyn Rabe. "So we're going to pump this crowd up, the little crowd that we have, and we're going to try to will our boys and girls on the victory."
"We're super thankful that we get the opportunity to go out there with COVID and everything," added Great Falls High junior Zowie Cook. "We're really lucky."
And even with all of the factors going against them, there’s more to the season than the difficulties, according to Great Falls High senior Tori Rinehart
"This has honestly been one of my favorite years with a lot of the relationships that I formed," she said. "It's a great experience when you have somebody next to you that you get along with and that you have fun with and it just it really changes that dynamic. When you go from, 'Oh, there's no one in the stands,' to, 'I've got my best friend right here.'"