While teaching basketball defense in “Hoosiers,” Norman Dale regularly reminded his players, “Palms up!”

But in cheerleading, it’s “hands out” -- regardless of the elements. 

The Patchogue-Medford High School cheerleaders showed off both sound fundamentals and mental toughness that would make Gene Hackman’s character proud during the homecoming football game last Saturday.  

Despite weather that the cheerleaders agreed was the worst they have cheered in, the squad stood by their school and and provided the usual sideline spirit.

Game-time temperatures hovered in the mid 40-degree range. Winds in excess of 20 mph inverted umbrellas, and rain came down in straight lines, soaking the turf and turning soil to mud.

The crowd in attendance were mostly huddled under coverings, wrapped in blankets and layers of clothing. But the Pat-Med cheerleaders coped with the weather and the requirements of their duties.

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“We’re here to show spirit, so it’s hands out at all times,” senior Andrew Kramer said. “...If we get caught even trying, the coaches tell us, ‘Hands out.’”

As a male cheerleader, Andrew doesn’t wield pom poms, which some of his female teammates used briefly to shelter themselves, although even that is a no-no most of the time.

Patchogue-Medford cheerleading coach Becky Lijoi confirmed that, even in this kind of a storm, rules about hands exposed and pom poms are accurate.

“But we do teach them to jump in place, and clap their hands, to help stay warmer,” she said.

The team dealt with the conditions, continuing to scream support and do basic routines.

“But not stunting, not in this,” explained Lijoi. “Too dangerous.”

Eventually, the team learned that despite its resiliency, it was being pulled from the sidelines after halftime.

“It’s the first time in my experience we’ve been told to do that, but this weather is the worst we’ve ever stood through,” Lijoi said.

Before the team was given its reprieve, ruined hair, running makeup, saturated clothes and soggy sneakers were already the norm. But when asked if this in any way affected their spirit, senior Jordan Kepler, before running to the sideline to cheer in the first half, shrugged, gave a big smile and said flatly, “It doesn’t.”