February 26, 2011 by wcobserver
WEST FORK- While most of the area spent last week digging out from nearly a foot of snow, the West Fork High School Cheerleaders battled against the nation’s best cheerleading teams to place tenth in the National High School Cheerleading Competition in Orlando Florida.
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, coaches, cheerleaders, parents and supporters made a 21-hour bus trip to Orlando, Florida. The cheerleaders were Florida bound with one thing in mind, competing in the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) 2011 National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC).
This season the WFHS team competed in two invitational competitions, taking home first place titles, regional and state level competitions where they won the title of 2011 State Cheerleading Champions. West Fork placed tenth in the nation in their division of co-ed small varsity.
After winning the state title the race was on to raise the funds needed to make their dream of reaching nationals come true. With help from the West Fork community, local businesses, fans and parents they raised the $13,000 that was needed to make the trip.
“It was a wonderful, exciting journey,” said cheerleading coach Deborah Hughes.
Between school, games and nine hours of practice each week, cheerleader Felicia Eggert said, the fundraising efforts “took a lot of our time, but it was worth it.”
“The fundraising took everyone to do it, no one was ever not working,” said cheerleader, Jordan Hoops.
NHSCC was held at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports center, and on Feb. 12 at 11:05 a.m., the West Fork varsity cheerleading team’s dream came true.
“We took the mat with pride and confidence. We performed a routine with skill, dance and cheer. We laid it all on the mat and when we finished we knew we had done our best,” Hughes said.
As an observer of the competition, one couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the atmosphere when you stepped into
the ESPN center. The large blue mats of the performance area were bathed in spotlights with a backdrop of Cinderella’s castle and large gold medals hanging on each side, a reminder to the teams what they were there for.
It was easy to imagine how a team’s nerves might get the best of them in that setting, that looked identical to any popular cheerleading movie you might have seen in the last ten years with several hundred spectators in attendance.
However, West Fork’s performance was proof that nerves were not an issue for them. Cheerleaders Courtney Blackston and Jimena Flores said while waiting to go on they were nervous but the excitement was overwhelming and they were ready to be on the mats performing.
“While I’m on the mats I don’t think or feel nervous, the adrenaline takes over and I just perform,” said Riley Franklin.
“Without a doubt, they gave their best performance yet,” Coach Kerry Spurlock said,
West Fork competed against the best of the best cheerleading teams from across the nation in the co-ed small varsity division. Several of their competitors had competed at the nationals numerous times in previous years.
“For our first time competing on the national level and placing tenth in the nation says a lot about the West Fork schools and cheerleading program,” said Hughes.
The majority of this team has been cheering and competing together for the last four years and have won three state titles, four regional titles, numerous other first place awards, now adding a national ranking to their collection.
“It was a great bonding opportunity. We had a lot of fun and it gave them something to work for and look forward to all year. It was a once in a lifetime experience,” Spurlock said.