Staff Writer: Madison Mataxas
We see them on the sidelines of sporting events dawning smiles on their faces, repping their blue and gold uniforms, and performing for the crowds, but more goes into the Wingate Cheerleader’s routines than many of us realize.
The season kicks off in August with the team participating in the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) camp. Here is where they learn a lot of material that they can put into their routine for the NCA National Championship. During this year’s camp, the team got a bid to compete in Daytona, Florida, and would be competing in the Game Day Open division against three other teams including rival school Lenoir-Rhyne.
During the two-day competition, the scores were split between the days. Points earned on the first day accounted for 25% of the final score and the remaining 75% were earned on day two. “On day one, we competed and hit our routine which moved us into 1st place by 4 points which was an amazing place for us to be going into finals,” sophomore cheerleader Keri Hennessee said.
Skip forward to day 2, it’s time for finals. The team arrived at the Ocean Center for warmups where everyone’s energy showed that the Bulldogs came to play and were ready to go. Entering the Band Shell, the team was more than ready to show off what they have been practicing since August. “The team came to life…we hit the best routine that we have ever done, and it felt amazing walking off the mat,” Hennessee said. Before the team scores were announced, Head Coach Kelly Sheppard pulled the team aside to tell them that the Bulldogs’ score had gone up by 1.5 points and that was the moment that the team knew they solidified their 1st place spot in the Game Day Open division. “When we were presented with our trophy we were overjoyed because we knew we had just become National Champs,” Hennessee said.
After WU Cheer was presented with the championship trophy, banner, and national title the team headed to the beach to participate in the tradition of running into the ocean to celebrate their win. “That was one of the most special moments we had as a team, it was something we’ll remember forever…Our team is so excited and thankful that we get to bring home another national title,” Hennessee said with a smile.