Posted at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Just days after seeing their soccer team win a state championship, Andalucia High School will have to make even more of a trophy case after the varsity cheerleading team took home the biggest trophy of the Alabama High School Athletic Association State Cheerleading Finals on Monday.
Leading this year’s cheerleading squad are coaches Ali Jackson and Katelyn Williamson, both in their first year.
“We got here with a lot of hard work and a lot of hours of practice. These girls wanted to compete and dedicated themselves to working,” Jackson said.
“The girls have worked so hard this year. They were determined and worked hard. We’ve seen them grow as a team and couldn’t be more proud of them,” added Williamson.
According to the coaches, it was the girls on the team who made the decision to compete for the state title this year, something they hadn’t done since 2008.
“They did so well at summer camp that they decided to commit and go for state,” Williamson said.
Catherine Pettie, team captain, said the team entered the championship prepared and ready to win the title.
“We have worked so hard. We all play different sports, but we’ve all worked hours and hours. I had a good feeling,” Pettie said. “We couldn’t let the boys win; the girls had to win too. We had the best energy we’ve ever had and our audience was amazing. We could hear them shouting and cheering us on. Our energy was super high. It was the best routine we’ve ever done.
Junior cheerleader Cape Merrell added that last week’s championship football only added fuel to the ladies as they prepare for their title shot.
“After the game (of Friday’s 4A football title), some of the coaches told us ‘it’s up to you now, you have to bring it home on Monday. would be to win two state championships in one weekend,” Merrell said.
A student-athlete in three sports, Merrell spoke about the differences between other sports and cheerleading.
“In basketball and volleyball, you have multiple opportunities to make up for mistakes. As encouragement, you have three minutes to do your routine and that’s it. You have to practice again and again because you only have one chance,” she said.
Another junior on the team, Kamari Gay, said the whole team was prepared and ready for the competition.
“It’s great to win a state championship. As soon as we got on the bus this morning, there was only gas, no breaks. We had the music on, we felt good and we knew we had to take it to the floor with us. It’s a great feeling,” Gay said.
The Andalusian cheerleaders qualified for the state after a strong performance in the South Regional Cheerleading State Qualifier held at the Mobile Civic Center on November 3. Other teams competing in the South Region that qualified for the state included: , Dale County, Prattville Christian Academy, St. Michael Catholic School, and Hale County.
The State Finals took place on Monday December 5th at the Birmingham Crossplex where teams competed in a traditional routine as well as a ‘game day’ format which included a combination of a group chant, sideline routine situational led by a cue from the announcer which then transitioned to the section leading to the crowd and ending with the fight song.
Members of the AHS Cheerleading Squad are:
Seniors: Catherine Pettie, Marion Bradley, Aubree Caldwell, Caylee Clark, Aspen Carter and Tara Ward
Juniors: Kyleigh Curry, Marge Duffy, Kamari Gay, Chaeyun Lee, Alicia McClain, Cape Merrell and Brynn Palmer
Year Two: Brittan Bennett, Olivia Cravey, Lily Jo Elmore, and Annie Park
(Editor’s note: Special thanks to Skip Enzor of Cantskipthis Photography for contributing to this story.)