The Apollo and Daviess County cheerleading programs joined each other for practice in the Cheer Zone on Wednesday night, as the two geared up for state competitions December 9 and December 10.
The E-gals and Lady Panthers come to the state hot, having both recently qualified for nationals in the UCA Bluegrass Regionals. They will also be joined by a number of other local teams, as Regional Head Coach Daviess Kitty Jones wants to wish them all the best of luck ahead of their game this weekend.
“All of our local teams did great in the UCA Qualifiers received offers and I want to give them big credit as well,” said Jones. “Good luck to Owensboro High School both at State and advancing to the Nationals along with Burns Middle School. I also want to thank the Apollo High School cheerleading program and their coaches for coming with us to achieve this common goal. Wishing them the best of luck in the states in their division.”
Head Coach Wes Nall was pleased with Apollo’s performance in the Bluegrass competition, but knew they had many areas they could improve.
“Our traditional competitive performance included several execution errors which cost us 8 points in our final score,” said Nall. “We still got 72… That score is amazing. We managed to hold on to the lead over Owensboro and sealed our bid by being the best on both scoresheets. In our gameday division, we finished third and once again suffered an action misfire. That single mistake easily cost us second place. I could argue we’d be first with perfect execution, but we’re up against a very good Daviess County team. It will be difficult.”
Jones feels the Lady Panthers are also doing a solid job overall, but can use the national qualification as a learning experience to help them develop going into the second half of the season.
“I felt our Game Day performance was good, but our scores were a bit lower than our previous competition,” said Jones. “We’ve changed a few things and have taken feedback from our score sheet to hopefully improve our score going forward. Our traditional 2.5 team had a great first half of their performance taking bids and now we have a good understanding of what we need to work on to get into the Nationals.
Competing in the competition in mid-November has also allowed Nall and Jones to gauge their team’s standing as they shift their focus to the national team, noting they face stiff competition.
“Kentucky is a leading state nationally, and Bluegrass is one of the biggest qualifiers each year,” said Nall. “In some of these divisions, small varsity D2 for example, you can expect the top 10 in Nationals to include 5-8 teams from Kentucky in any given year.”
But it’s no surprise that either program qualified for the national, as the Daviess County and Apollo cheerleading teams have had a lot of success in the past. E-gals have been eligible for Nationals for the seventh consecutive year, excluding the 2020-21 season disrupted by COVID-19.
“We have pursued two offers for most of that year, and three in 2019-2020,” said Nall. “The total, including this weekend, is 15 of 15 bid attempts. I don’t want to say it’s ‘standard’, but I’m confident in the way we’re approaching this qualifying.”
The Lady Panthers’ success, on the other hand, began in the late 1980s and early 90s, when Jones credited the Daviess County teams and current assistant coach Sally Ward with setting a precedent for the program’s success.
“It was a real relief to qualify in our traditional 2.5 division because the end of our routine for the day wasn’t great,” said Jones. “However, qualifying for the Nationals is the standard for Daviess County cheer set years ago when one of our current coaches, Sally Ward, took the team as head coach to the Nationals in 1994 and finished ninth in 1999. Sally also participated as a member of the team in 1989 placing 11th. There have also been several years of success at National level under the leadership of Tammy Morgan.”
In the national qualifiers, Jones felt the Lady Panthers executed their passion and sharpness well, but had some timing issues that didn’t pan out in several areas. To prepare for the lead into the states, Jones and his staff paid close attention to every move of their Game Day routine to create cleaner transitions, firmer moves, and higher energy.
Nall said that E-gals have been working to improve their skill execution to be competitive on a national level, as that has been a key focus in their pre-state practice and will continue to be an emphasis point as they prepare for state in January.
With two programs highly competitive and always looking to upgrade with the goal of bringing home some hardware, Jones pitched the idea of training early in the 2022 postseason. The two programs don’t always go hand-in-hand, but the practice is a way to bridge the gap between the two while encouraging them to want more of themselves at the end of the year.
“I contacted Coach Nall before KHSAA Regionals and asked if they wanted to train together, he jumped right in,” said Jones. “Even though we are rivals back home, coming together to train has built a great relationship between the programs that were once divided. It has pushed athletes out of their comfort zones, and taught them how to have good sportsmanship even when playing against each other in UCA Qualifiers. We cheer each other on, along with the parents of each program, and share feedback with each other.”
Nall notes that being able to practice together is a great motivator for both teams, noting that cheerleaders don’t have a lot of competition whereas your main sports team will be playing at a game pace two to three times a week. And while both programs have buried the hatchet in terms of their past splits, the competitive hunger to be the best has not changed between Daviess County and Apollo.
“Our team is competitive, both in general and with each other,” said Nall. “I have known their coach for a long time. Kitty was one of the first people I met when I moved to Owensboro in 2004. Putting them side by side in rehearsals, gave them that bit of competition that cheerleaders don’t get… Cheerleading competitions are weeks or sometimes months apart. It’s easy to get stagnant. It’s a practice and the environment is mostly positive and encouraging, but don’t think for one minute that someone is sending them to a rival school in the building.
Although completing the national level competition is a high priority for both programs, they will be holding the state competition this weekend first.
Jones said that the Lady Panthers need to execute the changes they’ve made so confidently and bring enough energy along with sharpness to stop a room from coming out on top. Nall shared similar ideas, noting that there would be little to no room for error for E-gals among the best the Commonwealth has to offer.
“Obviously we have to successfully execute our skills,” said Nall. “The country is a monster to us. Graves County and McCracken County nearly choked out in first and second place. They will both be in the top teams in their divisions at national level. They are loaded. We have to execute, not drop points on mistakes and look for one of them to open the door for us.”
Teams compete on different levels allowing different skills. The level system starts from level 1, followed by level 2, and so on. Level 7 is the highest level in cheerleading, where most skills are allowed. The general belief is that the higher the level of the team, the better.
Is cheer the hardest sport?
Cheerleaders. “Between football and wrestling and cage fighting and stuff like that, cheerleading is by far the hardest sport I’ve ever done, and the most painful,” Don told the Standard Examiner. To see also : Denver Broncos High School Game of the Week program to highlight Colorado schools throughout the 2022 football season.
What is competitive cheer called?
What is All Star Cheer? All Star Cheer is a high-energy, team-based, performance sport that is athletic, artistic, and acrobatic. To see also : Meet the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders from Bethlehem. It involves athletes competing with 2 and 1/2 minute routines consisting of segments of tumbling, stunting, pyramiding, dancing and cheering.
What’s the difference between competitive fun and All Star? All-star cheerleaders generally have a higher skill level than high school cheerleaders and take classes focused on tumbling, gymnastics, and cheerleading to improve their skills. They don’t cheer for sports teams or other events, so the cheering is more performance-based than boosting school morale.
What are the different types of cheers? While they all share some of the same conceptsâ€”such as stunts, tumbling, cheers, and movesâ€”they are also different.
- Recreation Cheerleaders. Let’s start with recreational cheerleading. …
- Elementary school cheerleader. …
- ALL STAR cheerleaders. …
- College cheerleader. …
- PROFESSIONAL Cheerleaders.
Is competitive cheer considered a sport?
Cheerleading has competition and they score goals and win just like any other sport.” Shaneace Virgil, a graduate of Bowie State and former Gold Girl, says that by any definition, cheerleading is a sport. This may interest you : Just the beginning: The Eagles Autism Challenge is a unifying force for change. â€œCheerleading encompasses many different aspects — from from physicality to show,” said Virgil.