By MARYLOU SALDANA
Rah-rah-rah! They came, they saw, they conquered. The Citrus Valley High School cheer squad won first place at USA Spirit Nationals.
Since its origin in the United States during the late 19th century, cheerleading has shown exponential growth in popularity over the last few years, with more competitions and teams—including professional ones—arising everywhere. Originally starting as a male sport, it has now widely become female-dominated.
Just like any other sport, cheering requires an intense amount of training and dedication, and now the CV Cheerleaders can officially say that their hard work has paid off as they add themselves onto the list of national champions.
Not only do these girls exhibit extreme persistence while on their mission to bring cheer, enthusiasm and motivation at their school’s games but they have also now proven that they can hold their own when it comes to competing in national competitions while being faced with challenging opponents.
Competitive cheerleading, the kind seen in nationals competitions, differs from the sideline cheering that is normally seen at basketball games. During school games, cheerleaders work to rally up the sideline and inspire the athletes. However, during competitions that are usually held at convention centers, they face off against other teams—both independent and school teams—as they have judges score them based on the difficulty and execution of their performances. The performances include a choreographed dance routine complete with flips, tricks and lifts.
This year the Citrus Cheerleaders took gold in their division, Super Varsity Show Cheer Novice. They competed in Anaheim, California from the 23rd through the 25th of February and faced ten other teams, none of which represented high schools from the Redlands Unified School District.
Their road to victory, however, was not an easy one, as these girls came across many challenges before their competition.
“Many girls got hurt weeks, even days, before nationals including myself…we also had a coach quit right near the end of football season,” Citrus senior Sunny Townsend explains.
Even while facing these hurdles the team persevered, Townsend went on to mention that they “placed first in all of their competitions this year” and that while doing so may have seemed like a particularly simple task to many who are unfamiliar with the sport they truly had to work hard to accomplish what they wanted.”
In addition to their training the Citrus team also had to collect bids from other competitions in order to qualify for the USA Spirit Nationals. At said competitions they had to have received a score of 85 or higher to receive a bid. As they entered more and more competitions they earned even more bids, eventually accumulating enough to qualify for nationals.
Once they got there the girls were put up against other teams from California spanning from Sanger to Cerritos; Second place went to Monta Vista High School, 3rd went to Sanger High School, and 1st went to Citrus with their performance that consisted of a typical 2½-minute routine—that could not be exceeded—including two music sections and a crowd-leading cheer during which the audience was riled up and expected to participate. Their level of excitement and participation played a key role in the points the team would end up receiving.
Practice made perfect for them: their happiness was overflowing and their cheer only increased after their win. They made Citrus Valley history by being the first cheer team to win such a competition since the school’s opening.
For the seniors on the team this win was a great way to end their high school cheerleading careers, and for those who were just beginning, they were given high expectations for next year and the many years left to come for the Citrus cheer program.
The team’s endurance took them to the top time and time again, so now all that is left to ask is, “Who will cheer on the cheerleaders?’