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Briarwood cheerleaders aim to leave 'family' as winners





Amy Hadden began teaching first grade and coaching cheerleading at Briarwood Academy 11 years ago. Of this year's six senior cheerleaders, five were in Hadden's very first class.

To honor such a special group, the competitive cheerleaders' routine focuses on a "family" theme.

"This year we have a really sentimental routine," Hadden said. "It's just one of those years where so many will be leaving."

"I cried when I first heard the songs," said senior Taylor Rabun. "It gave me chills. At state, win or lose, I'm going to cry."

There are 16 girls on the varsity cheer squad, including one eighth-grader. Hadden's assistant coach is Lisa Newsome.

"It's a good group overall to coach," Hadden said. "They have such a desire to do well."

The team has won the state competition for the past three years, meaning the seniors have won every time they have competed.

Despite their perfect record, Hadden said they don't start a year assuming they will win the state competition.

"We have to focus even more," said senior Sara Betts Brunner. "We still have to work hard because everyone is out to get us. I really want four years in a row."

In June, the team attended a competition camp where a choreographer taught them their routine. Since then, they have been practicing at least three times a week to perfect it.

At each competition, they are judged based on categories such as motions, dance, tumbling, jumps, basket tosses, stunts and overall performance.

"Performance and showmanship are definitely strengths," Hadden said. "Their stunting is good. We have three good fliers and a great group of tumblers."

The girls said they perform their best when they have an audience. Fortunately, the team has quite a following of friends and family.

"I love the fans," said senior Kayla Rhodes. "Hearing them cheer gets you pumped up."

Their first competition is Saturday in Sandersville, Ga. They also have competitions Tuesday and Nov. 5, and Briarwood will host a competition Nov. 12. The state competition is Nov. 19 in Milledgeville, Ga.



Web posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011













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