General News

LHSAA First Annual Cheer and Dance State Championship Recap

Posted: 12-08-2011 | Categories: Cheerleading, Coaches, Parents & Students

Depending on which doctor you consult, it takes anywhere from 13-22 muscles to smile. These muscles get the greatest workout during the two and a half minute dance and cheer routines. Smiling during competition is much easier said than done, especially considering the fact that participants are expected to yell in sync, often while lifting and holding a teammate high overhead. At the end of the LHSAA competition there was, naturally, many smiles to be enjoyed and more than a few frowns to be comforted; there was also blood, vomit, ice bags, bandages and braces. There was drama, prayers, tears and every emotion that that can be experienced in the most competitive of endeavors.

On December 4, 2011, the Lake Charles Civic Center played host to the first-ever LHSAA State Cheer and Dance Championships. According to Jennifer Sword of Varsity Brands and one of the championship coordinators, the number of schools and participants for the first year event was truly impressive.

“It has way exceeded our goals…we never expected to have over 1300 participants,” she said excitedly.

The 1300+ athletes that signed up to participate helped make the Cheer and Dance Competition the third largest participatory championship event in the LHSAA, behind Outdoor Track and Field, and Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country. For those unfamiliar with the competition, the term “athletes” is very appropriate. Not only do these skilled performers practice hours each day and months in advance of the competition, but many performed at fall sporting events such as volleyball and football.

“We were at the state football playoffs last night and had to leave early this morning to get here on time,” said Parkview Baptist coach Rebecca Collette, whose team took first place honors in the Small Varsity Cheer Division.

She echoed the sentiments of other coaches and fans when she noted that her team members gladly participated in the championship run of both the volleyball and football teams, but bemoaned the fact that those students, for the most part, didn’t reciprocate by coming to support her squad at the cheer championships.

“It’s a little disappointing, but understandable,” she added.

Such is the plight of the cheer and dance teams. They work extremely hard throughout the year and hope everyone on the team remains healthy—EVERYONE being a most critical component as the loss of one member often dooms the entire team. This was the unfortunate case for the Pineville team when one member of the squad was in a serious accident the night before the competition.

“It’s truly a team activity and the team can’t compete to its fullest if one of the members is missing,” says one of the coordinators regarding the Pineville team’s disappointment. “Not only are they concerned about the welfare of their friend, but you just can’t fill that gap with less than a day’s notice.”

The “team” aspect is so critical, in fact, that coaches go to extreme measures to make sure their teams look and move in a coordinated and synchronized fashion. “One of my featured girls cut her long, beautiful hair just before the competition and I wanted to cry,” said a coach who asked to remain anonymous. “I don’t want her to feel bad but we had such a beautiful look with all that hair flying around,” she added.

The “look” definitely plays a role not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but for scoring. The “overall impression” category of scoring is, perhaps, the most important. Teams spend great amounts of time with make-up, glitter, costumes, etc. for the Dance competition. The Cheer competition has less glitter, but the “look” is just as important.

“The judges have more than a dozen categories they can score and all are important, but a clean routine with a sharp look goes a long way in influencing them,” says Sword. “It helps if they smile,” she added, with a smile of her own.

The competition began with Lakeshore High School taking state honors in the Pom Pom category of the Dance Division. They were followed by Hip Hop winner St. Thomas Aquinas, which edged Ruston High. In the Jazz category of Dance, St. Thomas Aquinas again took the state crown, this time followed by Lakeshore and Archbishop Hannan High.

Though not affiliated with the LHSAA State Championships, some 200+ Jr. High participants also competed in their own dance and cheer divisions. For the record, the cute-meter exploded with the performance of the Live Oak Pee Wee Rec team.

This group of 4-6 year olds competed like seasoned vets, even if the “WIN” sign was held upside down. If these youngsters can memorize a 2-minute cheer routine (and they did to perfection!), they will have no problems with multiplication tables in the future.

The afternoon session featured competition categories that are somewhat unique. Ruston High was named State Champions for their performance in the Time Out Cheer category. Cecilia High was runner-up with Erath High taking third place. In the High School Fight Song category, Ruston High won with the highest score of the meet (90.625) and the only composite score of the day over 90 points. Erath High was second and Holy Cross took third.

In the Time Out Dance competition, 10 schools (largest of any category) participated. Dutchtown High is the LHSAA State Champs, edging Hahnville in second and Erath in third.

In the Cheer Division, teams with more than 70 points qualified for national competition, along with garnering state honors. Those teams with national qualifying scores and their state placement included:

Large Coed—Jesuit High, third place; Erath High, second place; and, State Champion Brother Martin High;
Small Coed—Archbishop Rummel, fifth place; Vandebilt Catholic, fourth place; Zachary High, third place; Holy Cross, second place; and, State Champion Archbishop Shaw;
Non-Tumbling—Northlake Christian, fifth place; Choudrant High, fourth place; Salmen High, third place; Loranger High, second place; and, State Champion Ruston High;
Jr. Varsity Non-Tumbling—State Champion St. Scholastica Academy;
Junior Varsity—State Champion Sam Houston High;
Small Varsity—Dutchtown, fourth place; St. Michael the Archangel, third place; West Monroe, second place; and, State Champion Parkview Baptist;
Medium Varsity—Archbishop Hannan, fifth place; New Iberia Senior High, fourth place; Hahnville, third place; Ouachita Parish, second place; and, State Champion Live Oak High;
Large Varsity—Sam Houston High, fourth place; Denham Springs, third place; Evangel Christian, second place; and, State Champion Fontainebleau;
Super Varsity—St. Pauls School, third place; Lakeshore High, second place; and, State Champion Mt. Carmel High.

Event Coordinator Becky French and LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson were on hand to pass out plaques and trophies to the winners. French summed up her feelings by thanking sponsors and the LHSAA for having the vision to recognize the incredible work of all participants.

“These kids put in countless hours of preparation and are skilled athletes and artists in their own right. I’m excited that we’ve had the opportunity to recognize their accomplishments and the contributions they make to their schools and their communities both on and off the athletic fields,” she explained. “This was a fantastic start, a truly historic event. I can’t wait to see how it grows from here,” she added, with a smile, of course.

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