CCJHS cheerleaders named All-Americans

Special to Leader-Press

As the coaches announced the results, the Copperas Cove Junior High School cheerleaders huddled in tightly and held hands in hopes that all their hard work at the Universal Cheer Association would pay off. They screamed with joy and leapt to their feet as the coaches revealed the team had earned a Superior Trophy for its performance. The team continued to cheer as the names were called of those selected for All-American honors.
The Copperas Cove Junior High cheerleaders recently completed a UCA home camp. The co-ed team of 24 spent three days learning the fundamentals of cheer, said Coach Tiffany Zachary.
“With the majority of the team cheering for the first time, classes on chants, dance, and stunting were challenging. The first day, they were sweating it out as they began learning sideline chants, etiquette, and basic stunts,” Zachary said. “They also tackled an extremely difficult upbeat dance full of changes at almost every beat. This squad showed determination right from the beginning. Even when they were missing steps and dropping stunts, they didn’t quit.” 
With a second day of classes, evaluations, and private coaching, Zachary and fellow coach, Samantha Purnell, saw noticeable improvement in the squad’s performance. 
“The UCA coaches were challenging the team with more advanced cheers and stunts. They were listening to instruction well and making adjustments,” Zachary said.   
By the morning of the third and last day, the UCA coaches had one more challenge for the team to push them to the next level. 
“In the first two days, they mastered two basic stunts going no higher than their shoulders. But this last day, they extended the stunt above their heads to form a pyramid two and a half times their height,” Zachary said. 
After this success, the squad was full of spirit and excited for the final two events of the day: the All-American tryouts and the final showcase at which they would be evaluated by the UCA coaches to determine their eligibility for the Superior Trophy. 
In groups of three, every cheerleader competed for All-American honors and a chance to cheer in the New Year’s Day parade at Disney World in Orlando, Florida or the Houston New Year’s Day Parade. The try-out consisted of a cheer, jump, and dance from the previous two days. 
Then, the entire squad, including the mascots, performed for friends and family and were evaluated by UCA staff. 
Seventh grader Emily Kimball believes she had an advantage because she competed in cheer and dance contests in the past through Gymkix. Her sister, Allyssa Kimball, was selected as All-American cheerleader in eighth grade at CCJHS and is now a varsity cheerleader at Copperas Cove High School.
“When I was announced as 2019 All-American nominee, I was so excited to be one of the eight girls chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Kimball said. “My strategy in the tryouts was to keep smiling and keep a positive attitude throughout the entire week.” 
Kimball said she does intend to take advantage of the invitation to dance in the New Year’s Day Parade in Houston or Florida. Ultimately, eight of the 24 squad members or one-third of the squad was chosen for All-American honors including six cheerleaders and two mascots. 

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