An "awesome" performance by the Briarwood Academy competition cheerleaders left their devoted fans in tears and landed the squad their first state championship in competition cheerleading at the GISA Class AA state competition cheerleading meet last Saturday at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon.
"I still haven't come down off Cloud 9," said Coach Amy Hadden, who began the varsity competition cheerleading program at Briarwood eight years ago.
Mary Lynn Reese began the middle school competition program two years prior to that and recently added a third, fourth and fifth grade (Mighty Bucs) competition cheerleading squad.
"They were fantastic! I couldn't be more proud," Mrs. Reese said. "I'm so happy for the girls and Mrs. Hadden. She (Mrs. Hadden) puts so much time and energy into it (competition cheerleading.)
"Even though I'm not their (the squad's) coach any more, they're still mine, and I was so proud of how well they performed," Mrs. Reese continued. "They worked hard, and they've been rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the sport of cheerleading."
"They were awesome - just plain good," assistant coach Lisa Newsome said.
The competition cheerleaders lived by their two mottos this season, according to Mrs. Hadden.
"One of our mottos was 'no excuses.' Don't give me an excuse why you're not where you're supposed to be, why your stunt's not staying up or why you don't perform enthusiastically.
"Our other motto is 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,' (Phillipians 4:13)" Mrs. Hadden continued. "Our talents are God given, and we always thank him for them before each performance and promise to use them to the best of our abilities."
The squad's demeanor was different before this most important performance, according to Mrs. Hadden.
"They weren't nervous. They were excited, yet all during warm-up there was a confidence about them. Their performance brought me to tears. I was so proud of them when they were done."
A large contingent of parents, grandparents, teachers, students and friends accompanied the squad to state.
"When you see them in the stands and hear them cheering for you, it gives you a boost to get through your routine," Mrs. Hadden said. "I want to thank everyone who attended Saturday and throughout our season."
It was a long road to the state championship for the Lady Bucs competition squad.
"It was a grueling schedule," Mrs. Hadden said. "We started practicing in July, and our practice schedule was intense. They have to be committed to cheerleading to participate in competition."
After developing a routine, the cheerleaders performed in a number of competitions throughout the season in an effort to perfect their competition routine before the state meet. Competition routines must be 2Â½ minutes long and are judged on motions and dance, tumbling, jumps, cheer, stunts and pyramids, choreography, voice and loudness, and performance and showmanship.
The routine requires extreme athleticism and timing on the part of the cheerleaders. The girls performed a swiftly moving series of stunts, dance and motions, which included round-offs, back handsprings, tucks and layouts with the entire squad performing round-off or forward rolls. During the stunting, the girls also incorporated one hitch kick full and two toe touch basket tosses, which is throwing the top girl in the stunt into the air as high as "eight to 10 feet" where she performs a choreographed pose before falling back and being caught by her teammates.
The varsity team includes seniors Caitlyn Quinn, Ashleigh Newsome, Dawn Shelton; juniors Anna Goolsby, Lindsey Burnley, Sherrer Long; sophomores Savannah Carani, Maggie Keene, Morgan Reese, manager Mary Ashley Gibson, and freshmen Shannon Newsome, Taylor Rabun, Sara Betts Brunner, Ashlyn Dent, Kayla Rhodes, Kristian Dawson, and eighth grader Marcie Rivers.