Two Live Oak cheerleading squads came home with hardware after competing in the National High School Cheerleading Championship earlier this month at Walt Disney Word Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The Live Oak High School squad captured national championships in the Medium Varsity Division I and Super Varsity Game Day contests. The contests were produced by the Universal Cheerleaders Association.
The team from Live Oak Middle School walked away with a silver medal for a second place win in the Large Junior High Division.
Competing at a high level is nothing new for either team.
Live Oak High attended its first nationals competition in 2008, finishing in the top 20. Three years ago, the team placed second.
The middle school squad has a long history of winning national championship titles, winning first place in 2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Eager to bring home a fifth national championship title, the team first competed in semifinals, securing a place in the top 10 and allowing the cheerleaders to move on to the final competition, said Brandi Gary, Live Oak Middle cheerleading sponsor.
“Performing the routine they have worked diligently to perfect, this team of 29 girls was thrilled with their performance and honored to walk away with a silver medal for a second place win in the Large Junior High Division,” Gary said.
Live Oak High cheerleading coaches Maddie Guidry and Kate Allen said they knew this year’s group of girls was special.
“When the girls stepped onto that mat, we reminded them to not do it for the jacket and the medal, we told them to go out there and do it for themselves,” Allen said. “We knew this year was special, and we knew this group of girls was special. Seeing the girls faces when we won and being a part of this championship team has been one of the true joys of my life.”
Guidry cheered during her high school years at Live Oak High and later in college. She said she always dreamed of winning a national championship.
“What I never imagined was being out of high school for only two years before coming back and winning two national championships in the toughest divisions,” Guidry said. “This year created a bond between these 22 girls that will last a lifetime, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Allen started cheerleading in the fourth grade and continued on a squad at Southeastern Louisiana University. She was captain of her high school cheerleading squad her senior year at St. Michael the Archangel School and has worked for the Universal Cheerleaders Association for seven years.
She described coaching for Live Oak as a dream come true.
Making that dream a reality took many hours of planning and fundraising for both squads. And both teams thanked parents and volunteers for their efforts.
After arriving in Orlando on Feb. 4, the high school team practiced at an all-star gym and later rehearsed routines at the All-Star Sport Resort in Walt Disney World on the “football field” with other cheer teams.
After two days of competition, the girls celebrated their victories with a visit to Disney parks, sporting their white, satin championship jackets.
The coaches said the Medium Varsity Nationals competition was a 2½-minute routine that included tumbling, a dance, a cheer, building stunts and a pyramid choreographed to music. They competed against 58 teams for the win.
The Denham Springs High School team also took part, finishing in eighth place.
The Game Day competition simulated typical cheer sideline activity at a football game, including a band dance, cheer and short chant. It was the first time the team competed in the Game Day event.
The high school squad includes seniors captain Gabbi Brown, Olivia Nesom and Ashleigh Ramsey; juniors Kolby Bond, Kendall Calmes, Julia Davis, Emily Hiestand, Carlie Hill, Bailee Klein, Georgia Langlois and co-captain Ally Mitchell; sophomores Laci Baldwin, Mason Bonura, Holland Hardison, Morgan King, Mandy Seale, Shelby Summers; and freshmen Kaitlyn Couvillion, Landyn Curtis, Aubrie Lewis, Ashlynn McFadden, Callie Prestridge.
The Live Oak Middle School cheerleadering squad included 29 girls competing in the large Junior High Division. The team is coached by Amy Stevens and Breanna Erwin and advised by Gary, Melissa Cwieka and Sydney McCumsey.
The competitions showcased nearly 5,400 dancers from 345 teams and nearly 13,000 cheerleaders from 667 teams, a news release from UCA said. Cheerleading teams were judged on their stunting and tumbling skills, crowd-leading abilities and overall performance, while the dance competition was judged on choreography, technique, execution and overall effect. Teams competing in the championship had to qualify at a regional event or camp in order to participate.
Varsity Spirit will post segments of each performance on www.varsity.com and the competitions also will air on ESPNU and ESPN2 starting in March and will continue through mid-April.