The student news site of McPherson High School

The High Life

The student news site of McPherson High School

The High Life

The student news site of McPherson High School

The High Life

Leading the team: The inspiring journey of McPherson High Schools cheer coach!


On November 18, 2023, the McPherson High School cheer team had the opportunity to compete at the KSHSAA 2023 Spirit Game Day in Topeka Kansas. Including McPherson, 15 teams took to the floor in hopes of placing. In total, the teams compete in three different events: Fight song, band chant, and crowd leading. 

After the first round, 6 teams make it to the finals and compete again. Unfortunately, McPherson didn’t have the outcome they hoped, placing 13th. 

The McPherson cheer team consists of 23 girls in total. They started off their season alongside the football team, cheering them on from the sidelines. 

The team is led by Head Coach Jessie Bernal and Assistant Coach Claire Weims. Weims is also currently the head coach for the McPherson Middle School cheer team. 

Jessie Bernal has been involved in cheer for many years. She spent all four years of high school cheering and even went off to cheer at Kansas Wesleyan University, in Salina Kansas. 

She was originally the assistant coach at MHS alongside Jodi Wenthe for two years, and recently took the position of head coach this past year. “I always knew I wanted to be a coach once I got out of college. I loved cheer and wanted to bring that competitive edge to the high school,” Bernal stated.

Coach Bernal spends a lot of her time dedicated to the cheerleaders. Many of the shirts and sweatshirts that the girls on the team are wearing were made by Jessie herself. “I love the girls on the team, and being able to make new things for them or give them new gifts is something that I enjoy doing and will always continue to do.”

Being a family as well as a team, is a big part of the MHS cheer team. “I love coaching but I also love getting to know all the girls individually. Building relationships with the team also helps performance in general. But when I get to watch all the girls hit a new stunt it also just makes me really happy,” Bernal shared, proudly. “We even have a Christmas party coming up which just gives the girls an opportunity to spend time with each other outside of school and cheer.”

The cheerleaders began practicing and learning new material for state around the beginning of October. This year Bernal felt like she wanted to try something new. “Originally I hadn’t wanted to take the girls to state just so that we could relieve some stress for this year. But after we were asked to go, I felt like it shouldn’t be something that we stress too much over,” She explained. Bernal also shared that they decided to take some routines from the girls UCA camp this summer, to perform at state. “KSHSAA likes to see when teams use what they have learned at camps, and it would also be less stressful considering we had already learned the routines.” 

The girls learned a new routine for the fight song but decided to use the UCA routines for the band chant and crowd-leading cheer. 

Though the girls may have not gotten the outcome they hoped, Bernal still felt that they did amazing. “All I wanted was for the girls to go out and have fun. I was not concerned about our placement. Of course, it would have been amazing to place top six but we did compete against some really great teams. It was still a great experience for everyone, so I don’t feel upset or disappointed in anyone,” she stated.

Coach Bernal has done a great job taking care of the girls on the team and making sure that the team is a safe space. The environment of the sport plays a huge role in the performance of the team, and it is very clear that she cares about each and every one of those girls. 


More to Discover
About the Contributor
Hannah Britting, Journalist
Hannah is 15 and a Sophomore at McPherson High School. This is her first year taking journalism. She is a cheerleader and also a part of KAY and International Club! She enjoys spending time with her friends or driving around in her free time.