The cheerleading team of St. Pauls celebrates after winning the NCHSAA Division II Non-Tumble Gameday state championship Saturday in Raleigh.
RALEIGH — Over the last few years, the St. Paul his way to more and more success in competition.
On Saturday, the team reached the top of the mountain, winning the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Division II Gameday Non-Tumble championship.
“It’s just a surreal feeling,” St Pauls coach Tashira Patterson said. “It’s not even real until we look at the trophy or look at the flag, then it’s like, oh my gosh.”
St. Pauls about fifth place in the state competition from 2018 to 2020 before switching to the Gameday division in 2021; the Bulldogs finished second last year, just 0.1 points behind the champions.
“It really means a lot because, it’s like, we’ve come from the bottom and made it to the top,” said Kristlyn Chavis, senior team captain. “People have always doubted us and said we weren’t going to win, and said things that might have made us doubt ourselves, but we overcame that to win.”
The team overcame injuries and illness, while several cheerleaders experienced deaths in the family and all of them experienced the death of a classmate in recent months.
“We sacrificed so much,” Patterson said. “We were getting backlash from people and fans because we weren’t going to the first couple of basketball games. People even called us selfish; I was just like, it will all pay off in the end, but they don’t see it. “
Those challenges culminated when the team finished their routine Saturday at the Raleigh Convention Center.
“After we finished, personally, all I could do was tear up, because I was like, dang, we really did this,” Chavis said. “All the hard work paid off, and I knew when we finished competing, I knew we already had it.”
St. Pauls several points ahead of the other teams in the competition, winning in a dominant manner.
“We beat everybody flat,” Patterson said. “Even if those other teams didn’t drop points, we still beat them.”
A game day competition means the team has to do four things: the band chant, a positional side cheer (offense, defense, etc.), a crowd cheer, and a fight song. Non-tumbling means they cannot do any tumbling, such as handsprings or cartwheels, in their normal routine.
The team returns to competition for the spring semester on January 28.
Team captains include Chavis, Ja’Naa Caldwell, Trezur McNeill and Mia Washington. Other team members include Gabriela de la Cruz, Keshaunda Henderson, J’Lissa Leonard, Micah McQueen, Te’myhia Melvin, Hope Morgan, Garden Orozco, Ny’Asiah Williams, Shania Graham, Jossyln Hammond, Jaela Jacobs, Addison Wilson and Jamaya Simmons.
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.