Cheerleading tumbles into third place


Mike Douglas

Emma Dixon, Copy Production Editor

The cheer team placed third at the conference tournament on Oct. 22, following a win at the mini-conference on Sept. 28 that earned them a bid to regionals. They hope to place well at regionals on Oct 29, and eventually states, by relying on their strengths.
“One of our main assets this year is how many tumbling skills we have,” cheer coach Ashlynn Foster said. “The level of gymnastic skills has dramatically increased over the past few years, and this year we have more skills than teams in the past. We’ve also really improved on executing very difficult stunts.”
Although the team uses the same routine at each competition, the girls are constantly practicing and looking for ways to improve it by making it more complex and adding harder stunts. They are also preparing for future competitions by working on consistency and precise performance of stunts.
“There are no second chances, so we’re constantly working on how we can execute our skills better and to make sure that we are able to hit them when the team competes on the mat,” Foster said.
Practice for the fall season started in March; since then, team members can now do stunts, like high-to-highs and 360s, that involve cooperation between the flyer and the base. The stunts can lead to serious injury if the flyer falls. Upperclassmen are pleased with the team’s progress.
“[Our] tumbling has gotten so much better,” senior captain Jazmine Fitts said. “We’re doing really hard stunts compared to my freshman year when I was doing straight-up heel stretches, and now I’m doing high-to-high tick- tocks. I never thought I’d do that. We’ve just grown so much in the past four years and since March.”
According to Foster, the team’s biggest competition is not another school, but rather the VHSL scoring rubric. Specific skills need to be executed to earn points, so many of the teams are working hard to execute the same skills.
“VHSL has continued to change the scoring rubric over and over, making this year especially challenging,” Foster said. “It’s a little unfortunate because the rubric has taken a lot of creativity away. Every school is working on the same stunts, just in a different order. So, as long as we can execute them the best, then hopefully we can come out scoring the best.”
The team has formed a strong bond, and coaches have assigned “cheer sisters,” pairing athletes together to support one another. They have team dinners at each competition.
“We always help each other out, especially as cheer sisters,” freshman Brielle Phillippe said. “We always try to give each other advice. It’s like a sisterhood.”
Unfortunately, the team did not make it to states last year, but they did compete both years previously, and they hope to return again this year.
“Our biggest goal is winning states, and we’ve been told by our choreographer that we have a lot of potential, too,” Fitts said. “[We need to] go through [and] watch our routine, and basically find what we’re doing wrong, and then make it better and do what the judges want, because that’s what’s going to get [us] there.”