The Thomson Competitive Bulldogs are the top dog in their sport, and Laura Adams challenges anyone who considers cheerleading not to be a sport.
The competitive cheering team competed in the 2006 Cheersport National Cheer and Dance Championship held in Atlanta last weekend, and came away with first place. As the team coordinator, Mrs. Adams said the event is the second largest event held at the Georgia Congress Center. Last year, she said it drew 12,000 more spectators than the National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four Championship.
"So don't say cheerleading isn't a sport anymore. This year, there were 180,000 spectators. It's huge. It is a phenomenal thing for these girls to experience," she said.
TCB consists of three teams. There are 20 on the senior team, which is seventh through 12th grade, 24 on the junior team, which is ninth grade and under, and 16 on the youth team, which is sixth grade and under. The teams practice twice weekly. This is their second year.
At the competition, the juniors won first place, beating the ICA Vikings from Columbia, who have been the champions for the last five years.
"They beat us the first day, we beat them the second day. So we've got a rival now. You love rivalry. You love competition. That's what it's about," Mrs. Adams said.
The senior team, who placed ninth in their division, made Mrs. Adams happy also.
"They beat Aiken," she said with a snicker. "It was kind of sweet because Aiken's been around forever, too."
Mrs. Adams said cheering is difficult because it is a disciplined sport, requiring the girls to stay in shape by doing push-ups and running, and master new skills such as throwing themselves into back handsprings and lifting teammates above their heads.
"It's like running a football play, everybody does their job, or it doesn't work," she said.
Team members are from Thomson and surrounding areas such as Warrenton and Lincolnton. Mrs. Adams thinks the national competition is a good experience for the girls, because some of them never have the opportunity to travel away from the area. She said to take them to the Georgia Congress Center and put them on a stage in the middle of 180,000 people and ask them to perform is a "big deal."
"They all did their job. I was so proud of them, I could have burst," Mrs. Adams said.
As first place winners, the team has the opportunity to buy championship rings, but Mrs. Adams said the rings are expensive, so they are looking for donations. Anyone interested in helping or in becoming a part of the team may call Mrs. Adams at 696-8182.