Parish squads cheer their way to nationals

Brandie Richardson

Three area high schools represented Ascension Parish in Orlando, Fla., last month during the 2017National High School Cheerleading Championship.

East Ascension High School's cheer competition squad competed for the first time during this sought after competition, working their way to place sixth in the nation in the UCA Game Day Large Varsity division. The competition squad, consisting of 20 cheerleaders freshmen through seniors, competed in both theUCA Performance Routine Competition and the UCA Game Day Competition for Large Varsity.

"Our squad learned how to work together to achieve their goal," said EA Cheer Coach Carrie Menge. "They put in a lot of extra time and money at practices and were very successful in their first national competition."

Meanwhile, the veteran squad at Dutchtown High School came in second in the nation in the Game Day Competition in the Super Varsity Division, just .7 points behind first place. This was Dutchtown's eighth year competing at nationals, where just two years ago they came in first place in their division.

"They worked so hard all year," said Dutchtown High Cheer Coach Chelsea Davenport. "They were disappointment at first, but they were so thankful they did so well. They really came together and left their hearts out on the mat and they were rewarded for it."

Davenport added that next year they will add more difficulty to their routines, but overall, she was extremely pleased with the results.

"We are going to go out and do what we did this year. Go out and score. They did their absolute best, which is all we could ever ask for."

St. Amant High School was the third team that represented Ascension. This was St. Amant's third time competing at this event, where theyplaced second in the Large Varsity Non-Tumbling Game Day division, seventh in the Large Varsity Non-Tumbling National division and fourth in the Large Varsity Non-Tumbling World's division.

"In 10 years of coaching cheer, this is by far the most talented and hardest working team I've ever had," said St. Amant High Cheer Coach Lauren Baggett. "Because of the flood platoon schedule, we had to have morning practices before school. While most students were enjoying sleeping in, these ladies were practicing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at least three times a week. Because of their dedication, they were able to reach new skills levels never achieved by STA cheer."

In order to better prepare for next year, the coaches are implementing new rules during their upcoming tryouts. Students trying out for the team will need to be able to demonstrate basic stunting skills as part of their score.

"Normally tryouts just consisted of a cheer, a chant, and a dance. We're hoping this will help elevate the program to a whole new talent level. We know that in order to win our division at nationals, we must be able to demonstrate mastery of more difficult stunts," the STA coach added.

Plan to see all teams back at nationals next year, performing better than ever.