Huskies accept challenge, overcome adversity to win state
Mar 30, 2017 12:04PM ● Published by Travis Barton
Hillcrest High School cheer squad celebrates after winning the state title. (Candice Simmons/Hillcrest Cheer)
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By Travis Barton | firstname.lastname@example.org
For the cheer squad at Hillcrest High School, winning state and achieving its year-long goal did not come without some human-size adversity.
Two days before the region competition the squad had a member bow out to perform in a play that was running at the same time.
“With the missing person in the routine it doesn’t work so we had to switch that around last minute,” said senior captain Isabelle Deloney. “It was really nerve-racking cause if we don’t qualify for state we don’t go.”
Not only did they qualify, but they won the region competition.
Two days before the state competition, the squad had a member carried out on a stretcher after injuring herself during a back flip. Some girls had doubts about competing, coaches had a tough decision to make on whether to even compete.
Head coach Erika Wilde said the team’s goal was taking first at state and they couldn’t back out.
“Our theme for the year has been challenge accepted. I think that was something that kind of helped push us through… we decided to move forward and obviously it paid off,” she said.
Not only did the squad compete, but they took first place in the cheer category and runners-up in the songleading category.
“It was fun watching the cheerleaders celebrate,” said assistant coach Carly Kent.
Deloney and fellow senior captain Mikayla Kershaw said it was an intense and tear-filled moment.
“Transitioning from all the stress we had to being able to celebrate was relieving for all of us,” Kershaw, who made the 4A all-state team, said.
Deloney, who overcame a dislocated elbow earlier in the season, said it was rewarding “because we were literally [in the gym] from 6 a.m. till 9 (a.m.) for a lot of weeks.”
But without the challenge that came before the region competition, the goal may have gone unattained. Down a squad member, Wilde spent all night redoing their routine.
Assistant coach Candice Simmons said it was a “huge flip moment” for the girls to overcome the rough week and still take first place in region.
“Everybody’s confidence lifted so much, which I think was a huge part, cause your confidence plays into your performance, it plays into everything,” she said. “That was really a huge moment was that realization that ‘OK we can do this. We can be champions.’”
In conjunction with that mindset, Kent felt the routines were well-choreographed and the squad members met the tumbling and stunting challenges they were presented with.
“This year the squad is just really good, they’re super talented like they all tumble, the stunts they do… They’re technique for sure played into that as well,” Kent said.
Cheerleaders completed their season—which begins with tryouts in April each year—at the national competition in Anaheim, California on March 23-27.
That season begins with summer conditioning and basics before moving into football season where the team prepares specific cheers, tumbles and stunts. Competition season then picks up in November running simultaneously with the basketball season.
“Cheer’s hard. It’s harder than people think,” Kershaw said.
On February 4, the team also performed during halftime at a Utah Jazz game.
With a year-round season, the captain’s roles become vital.
“We are the mediators between the coaches and the team,” Deloney said. She added that before the year, she was unaware to the amount of responsibilities required of the captain.
“It can be a lot to juggle, and I love it. I love being in the know and being in charge kind of, but it is a lot of responsibility and you’re in charge of a lot of things. It’s a lot to take on,” she said.
Coaches said they have higher expectations for themselves each year and the same goes for the Huskies’ captains.
“It can be a lot for sure but they’ve done really well for everything we’ve thrown at them,” Simmons said.
It has left lessons with the captains as well.
“It takes a lot of selflessness, more than you would think. Last year, all I thought was myself, how am I doing in the routine, how did my skills match up,” Deloney said. “(As captain) you really don’t think about yourself. You have so many other people to think about that you can’t really think about yourself as much.”