S. C. Lee cheerleaders capture national championship
Special to Leader-Press
COVID has changed everyday life and that includes the life of cheerleaders who imagine themselves cheering on the sidelines of every game, representing their school in cheer competitions and mentoring younger students.
The S. C. Lee Junior High cheerleaders did not use the pandemic as an opportunity to rest on their laurels. The team competed in a virtual cheer competition open to all teams across the nation.
Coach Jade Cooper says it was a game-day-style competition, so the team had to perform two cheers and two dances that are part of normal game day routines.
“Our team works extremely hard, so preparation was not an issue for us. We stay performance-ready at all times,” Cooper said. “Once the videos (of the squad performing) were recorded, they were uploaded to YouTube for the judges to view. I think the team was less nervous competing virtually because they did not have to sit in front of the judging panel nor did they have to see the teams that they compete against. Due to the recording being done in our normal practice space, it helped them to stay calm and focus on enjoying the competition.”
While the cheerleaders benefitted from not being able to compare uniforms, hairstyles and other superficial things with their competitors, Cooper said the disadvantage was not being able to interact with other teams like they would normally and not being able to see what cheers and routines other schools performed.
“Our biggest challenge was beating the other teams in the band dance or best spirit cheer categories because other teams have different cheers than we do,” Layana Locke, sixth grader, said. “We had no idea what the other teams’ cheers were, so we had to find one of our own, make the best of it and hope we won.”
Cooper said her biggest challenge for the team was the recording and submission of the videos.
w“The team was supposed to record the final videos before the winter storm back in February, but due to inclement weather we had to use the videos that we recorded during practice,” Cooper said. “The team was in practice attire and their hair was all over the place. However, we submitted the videos in order to not be disqualified.”
Both Cooper and the squad said they were surprised by all of the categories in which they placed.
“We were not expecting two first place wins and we were really surprised by the overall champion win as well,” Cooper said.
Seventh grade cheerleader Presley Lowery said she was genuinely surprised the squad scored so highly with the judges.
“That just goes to show that hard work and team work really pay off,” Lowery said.