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Cheer brings national championship title home

Varsity placed first in Game Day Routine

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Cheer brings national championship title home

The cheer team poses outside of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Osceola County, Florida. Courtesy of LHS Cheer.

The cheer team poses outside of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Osceola County, Florida. Courtesy of LHS Cheer.

The cheer team poses outside of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Osceola County, Florida. Courtesy of LHS Cheer.

The cheer team poses outside of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Osceola County, Florida. Courtesy of LHS Cheer.

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The cheer team brought back its winning streak in nationals after previously losing to Azle High School last year by less than a point. The team competed at nationals on Friday, Feb. 8 to Saturday, Feb. 9 and placed first in Game Day Routine and 12th out of 13th in Routine.

“It feels good [to keep a streak] because I’ve been on the team since freshman year,” senior team captain Clara Raper said. “We won my freshman year, we won my sophomore year and then we lost junior year, which really bummed me out but we brought it back home my senior year. It just feels good to bring back that tradition and that line of winning and everything so I hope [next year’s team] keeps going with that.”

Because nationals was hosted in Orlando, Florida by the Universal Cheerleading Association, the team was able to celebrate its victory in Disney World once the competition was over. The team visited during Thursday, Feb. 7 until Monday, Feb. 11.

“The trip was actually really good this year,” Raper said. “A lot of people got a lot closer and Disney was really fun, it only rained like one day so it was sunny and warm the whole time. It was a fun experience because my mom could go this year and I got to spend time with her and everything like that. It’s going to sound cheesy but hanging with my mom on her birthday [was probably my favorite part]. She had never been with me to nationals all four years that I’ve gone and she got to go this year so it was cool just to spend time with her in Magic Kingdom and enjoy that.”

The theme for the routines this year was inspired by High School Musical’s “Get Your Head in the Game.” To prepare for the competition, the team would try and practice every single day outside of school and go to Excite every week, an open gym that would allow them to practice their stunts and perfect their techniques.

“This year’s team just had a really good mindset,” cheer coach Jill Van Klink said. “They switched up the order so Game Day, one of our routines, was earlier this year and so when we got to Disney they were just in a good mindset. Because we did lose last year by less than a point we really wanted to focus, pay attention to detail, come out with lots of spirit and kind of get our heads in the game so we [could] bring back that national championship title.”

The cheer team was judged on their level of spirit, how well they expressed emotion in their routine and their ability to direct the crowd.

“We got high marks in all of the [categories] but our cheer really sets us apart,” Van Klink said. “Our cheer was a good amount higher than everybody else in our division which is nice because that’s what we do every Friday [and] Wednesday night. We’re here cheering year-round for all of our sports so we were kind of excited [cheering] was our strong category.”

Since the victory, the cheer team remains hopeful to continue the winning streak in the upcoming years. With cheer tryouts around the corner and the seniors leaving, the underclassmen will have to work into leading a good force so next year’s program can maintain its title.

“[We have] to really learn to get close to [our] teammates so [we] have a better bond so there’s no fighting or anything because when [we’re] practicing a lot [we] get angry,” junior cheerleader Brandi Hubbard said. “[We need to] learn to work with each other in a better way.”

Leaving her legacy of cheer captain behind, Raper, a cheer team member for four consecutive years, explains success does not come easily.

“No matter what happens you just have to keep fighting, keep pushing,” Raper said. “No matter how long you practice, no matter how tired you are or how bad your body hurts you just have to keep going because at the end of the day it’s worth it.”

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Cheer brings national championship title home