By Sam Gilpin ’17
No one is ever excited to take an 18 hour bus ride, except a group of cheerleaders going to Disney World for nationals. Ready for the Florida sun, the Ridley High School JV and Varsity cheerleaders headed to the National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC) in Orlando on February 9.
Saturday morning the girls headed to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports to begin day one of the NHSCC competition. JV first competed in semi-finals in the small junior varsity division. This was Ridley’s second junior varsity cheerleading team to perform in the NHSCC nationals. Emma Grace, a junior member of the JV competition team, enjoyed the experience.
“Although we did not advance to finals, we came a long way from the start of our season and put on a performance that was filled with energy and stamina.”
Varsity competed later that day and advanced through preliminaries and semi-finals, qualifying for finals. Gina Barrett, a senior varsity captain, was excited to make it to finals, since it would be her last performance as a Ridley cheerleader.
“We could not be more proud of our girls for their accomplishments this weekend. In a tough division that started with 60 teams, we made it to the final round and are 17th in the nation,” said coach Sam Elliot.
This event was nationally televised on ESPN. To be eligible for this competition, teams must attend a Varsity Spirit Camp and participate in a Squad Credentialing Program in order to receive a bid at a 2016 fall qualifying tournament.
Prior to the competition, the girls practiced with the teams from Haverford High School.
“This took place at Orlando Athletics and consisted of running our routines and going over any particular parts that we struggled with before the big day,” explained Emma Grace.
In between competing and practicing, the cheerleaders had some opportunities to have fun and relax. The girls enjoyed a team dinner at the Rainforest Café in Disney Springs. Following the end of the competition, Hollywood Studios hosted a championship block party, exclusively for cheerleaders. Attendees were given the opportunity to shop, go on rides, and enjoy music.
As nationals marked the end of the season, the girls reflected on their time as a Ridley cheerleader.
“Make every moment last and give every performance your all,” advised Gina Barrett to next year’s team.
Awaiting a new season, Emma Grace tells future Ridley cheerleaders, “There is more to being a cheerleader than leading the crowd or winning a national title. It’s an amazing role that I hope you all take on with passion.”