The varsity cheer squad recently concluded their season with their annual Nationals Competition from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3. The competition took place at Universal Orlando, and there was a New Year’s party to celebrate, featuring a performance by Newsboys singer, Michael Tait.
The competition lasts two days. Judges evaluate each team and take 60 percent of one day and 40 percent of the next day, finalizing the scores in the end. The Varsity team began the competition in first and finished the final day in second place.
Facing several injuries and other health issues, the team did their best throughout the season to make necessary changes. They worked through unexpected changes together and ended up a stronger team.
“We had some setbacks with quarantining and encountered some injuries,” said Coach Bone. “Overall, it was a super-challenging season, but, in the end, the girls did great. They placed first in all their competitions and even won Grand Champs [for] one competition.”
There were 15 girls on the squad for the 2020-21 season, all having different levels of experience. They worked on team-building and worked to make sure that each person was using their specific talents and abilities to improve the team as a whole.
“As a coach, I prefer a bigger squad at a varsity level,” said Coach Bone. “I pulled up four eighth graders just to give us a bigger presence at competitions. There was a large age-gap, ranging from 13 to 17, and there were multiple comments at the end of the season that this was the most unified squad we’ve ever experienced. I like to see the team come together at the beginning of the season and watch their progression as they go from a new team to a solid group of cheerleaders at the end of the season.”
The girls encouraged one another to keep going, no matter the struggle. They worked around illnesses and injuries, coming up with new routines and overcoming serious obstacles.
“I was constantly having to break the news that we were going to have to change the routine due to an injury or someone being quarantined,” said Coach Bone. “They took on the challenge, never gave up and overcame some huge obstacles this season.”
At times when the team felt unprepared for a performance or competition due to changed plans, they kept going, and their perseverance paid off. They were able to push through uncertain times and build their bond as a team.
“I believe the team did a super-good job on pushing through when times got tough,” said Natalie Gunnels. “Our team’s word for the year was ‘growth.’ We went through so much and that truly helped us to grow and strengthen our trust in each other.”