Union Local High School cheerleaders will compete at the national level in February after qualifying for the state regionals. Pictured are Gwen Gibson, front left, Kiara Triplett, Cali Brudzinski, Addison Greenwood, Taylor Kildow. Standing from left are Aila Moore, Sloan Hanasky, Morganne Emory, Caelyn Crooks, Emma Davis, Emilie Blawut, Kayelynn McBride, Jersie Watson. Coaches are Amy Latham and Mady Brown.
BELMONT — Union Local High School cheerleaders will pit their skills against those of teams from across the country early next year when they compete at the national high school cheerleading championships hosted by the Universal Cheerleaders Association at Walt Disney World in February.
Union Local cheerleaders competed at the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators regional qualifiers on Oct. 23 in Columbus.
Varsity coach Amy Latham said it was too early to speculate how many teams might be at the national competition.
“We were one of the first regionals, so I don’t know how many end up qualifying for nationals. Fifteen qualified (in the regionals) just from Ohio, and I think there were 18 or 19 teams ,” she said.
Latham said this is the team’s first time competing at this level.
“It was kind of scary because there were schools of all sizes from Ohio there,” she said.
“Most of them were D-1 schools,” she said, referring to Division 1 schools, which include the largest schools with the largest athletic programs. “Typically we’re D-4 in Ohio, but with this national division that we’re in … we go up against any school of any size. It doesn’t matter how many students they have.”
Latham has been coaching for 10 years. She said she is proud of her team and was confident as they began their routines at regionals.
“I thought we had a good chance. They’ve been working since July to be ready to come into this region, so I had a good feeling. The environment was intimidating. There were a lot of schools that had been there before. It was a new experience,” she said.
Latham added that the cheerleaders are always under a lot of pressure during competitions when all their efforts hinge on one event.
“You get one shot, so it has to hit on every level,” she said. “They’re looking at the overall performance. They’re judging our cheering or tumbling skills and jumping and the overall performance of that, that’s what they’re looking at. It’s a two-and-a-half-minute routine. We had to score that high to even qualify us.”
She said the team is highly motivated.
“We set a goal right after trials in March. This is something they wanted and they’ve just worked really hard to get there. They all have the mindset to work hard and they want to win – just the will to to get better every day, to put it all out there and do their very best. They’re also a very talented group of girls. There’s a lot that goes into cheering that some people don’t realize. The conditioning you have to do, the tumbling, the jumping , the movements, the dancing, being on time with each other … a lot goes into it. They’re a … goal-oriented group of kids.”
She said the cheerleaders are looking forward to sightseeing in between competing in the three-day competition 10-12. February. There will be a preliminary round, semi-finals and finals.
Latham said with airfare and lodging, the cost of the trip is about $1,500 per person. cheerleader There are 13 on the team.
“We’ve done some fundraising. We plan to do some fundraising in a couple of months. It’s pretty expensive to go, so we’re going to do a lot more fundraising and take donations,” she said.
Supporters can donate through the Union Local School District’s Facebook page.