Cheer Rises To The Occasion

Journey To State Competition, Plan For National Competition

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photo by Aja Steiner

Varsity cheerleaders perform during the cheer regional competition on Oct. 17. After regionals, the team moved to the state competition where they placed fifth. “We know that fifth is in state is still an awesome rank, but just to know that our routine could’ve been better is still [disappointing]," senior cheer captain Alyssa King said. "On the bright side, our loss has only encouraged us to bring our 'A' game to our first national competition in Florida.”

Ava Caldwell, Reporter

From cheering on other students and hyping them up at pep rallies to participating in multiple off campus functions, the Cedar Park cheer team does a lot during their school year. Along with these activities cheer also prepares routines starting in October for competition.

This competition season, cheer attended regionals in November located in Austin and placed fourth, the highest rank out of all of the attending 5A schools. After regionals cheer continued to work and then attended the state championship and placed fifth out of sixty four other schools. 

“Walking into a competition[state] that you’ve won two years in a row is very intimidating,” senior cheer captain Alyssa King said. “Cheer teams look at Cedar Park and think ‘I want to beat them’ and it’s almost like the movie, ‘Bring It On’, environment.”

Before cheer was able to compete at state, there were multiple steps that had to be met. First off in March of 2019, the same time as regular varsity tryouts, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) team was also chosen. The team was then finalized at the annual team camp in June.  

“The judges look to see who the people with the strongest tumbling and stunting skills are,” first time UIL team member and sophomore Julia Childress said. “You also have to be very spirited and good at engaging a crowd because it’s a spirit competition.”

In October, cheer began to learn, choreograph and clean their routine in order to ensure that it was perfect before January, or competition month. The overall competition routine consists of four parts which are learned and cleaned separately to be combined into one “final” routine. The four parts are a band dance, a sideline situation chant, a cheer and the fight song. 

“We learn the routine from Maddoux because she used to coach the team and she has lots of experience judging, but the captains also have input,” Childress said. “To clean the routine we hire someone who is part of the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) because she knows how to make the routine look better.” 

After choosing the team, learning the routine, and cleaning the routine it is time for competition. During the UIL state competition days from Jan. 16-17, cheer performed a fight song, band dance, and cheer separately for the preliminary round. Cheer placed in the top twenty out of sixty-four teams which put them in the state finals.

“The fight song and band dance both went well for us, but when we were warming up the cheer, our stunts were nervous,” Childress said. “We [did] hit them in our performance so we were happy.”

About five hours after prelims cheer combined all four elements of their final routine and performed it for the state finals. However, during the routine, some stunts did not go as planned. Cedar Park wound up placing fifth overall, but King and Childress both stated that they are proud because it is still such a big accomplishment. 

“It was really disappointing and there were many tears from everyone on the team,” King said. “We know that fifth is in state is still an awesome rank, but just to know that our routine could’ve been better is still [disappointing]. On the bright side, our loss has only encouraged us to bring our ‘A’ game to our first national competition in Florida.” 

The national competition is Feb. 7, in Orlando Florida. Cheer will be visiting Disney World while in Florida and King commented that this trip will be a good team time. 

“Nationals will be a great bonding experience at Disney World and we can only hope that the competition will be as fun as the trip,” King said. 

Before Nationals can happen, cheer is working hard during their school class period and adding after school practices to the calendar to perfect their routine. 

“For nationals we have worked non stop at correcting our mistakes that the state judges commented on and trying our best to perfect them,” King said. “ [We’ve worked] our butts off, even if it’s not the most fun thing to do.”

Overall, the cheer team is proud of their state accomplishments and say that it has only pushed them harder in preparation for Nationals in two weeks. Childress, as a first time UIL team member, commented on her experience. 

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I really enjoyed it,” Childress said. “I got a lot closer with many of the girls on the team because of all of the hard work we put in together. When you are competing you are not just doing it for yourself, you are doing it for your other teammates as well.”