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Cheerleaders are made to fly, jump, yell, have spirit and, in Rugby, win state championships

By Staff | Mar 27, 2015

The Rugby Cheer Team and their coaches pose for a photo after competing at Bismarck High School.

When it comes to being judged by difficulty, creativity, technique and execution, for cheerleaders stunting at the state competition every aspect is crucial.

“It takes focus, determination and trust to be a successful stunting team,” said senior Rugby cheerleader Helen Johnson.

For the Rugby cheer team, 13 girls – including Johnson and freshmen Alissa Volk, Aimee York, Corinna Bell and Brianna Leier – were in two pyramids, doing as many stunts as they could in one minute. Johnson said that in practicing their stunts, communication between every one of them is crucial.

“If one group doesn’t go up, it can affect the outcome of the stunt as a whole,” Johnson said. “By doing stunts that rely so much on every individual, we risk the stunt failing due to miscommunication or we risk not showcasing a certain part of the pyramid – which can affect scoring.

“(The pyramids) were nailed at competition because we trusted each other and we knew that we were all going to do our individual parts because of the countless number of times we performed the stunt at practice,” Johnson said.

The stunt team took second place. With that, Leier advancing to the second round of the jump-off competition and freshman Haylee (misspelled in print edition) Miron taking second in the all-around (one minute of cheering, jumps and tumbling) event, the cheer team was able to take a first place finish out of 11 teams in the winter competition last weekend at Bismarck High School.

Head coach Deanne Nelson couldn’t be more proud of her squad.

“They had a busy winter with cheering and didn’t have time to put this routine together until a week before,” Nelson said. “They worked extremely hard and it paid off.”

According to Nelson, Johnson and fellow senior cheerleader Alyssa Mattern help come up with routines, which the squad as a whole then tweaks, out of safety or if something doesn’t work.

Johnson said that coming up with a routine starts by experimenting with different stunts during practice. Once they are confident with the stunts, the squad showcases them at games. The squad then combines the stunts into a competition routine.

The team competes in the fall and winter and does a different routine for each competition.

“We (Nelson and assistant coaches Ashley Stricker and Paige Brossart) always tell the girls, ‘No matter what happens, be proud because you came up with (the routine) on your own’,” Nelson said.

For Nelson and company, competition is the icing on the cake for a season of cheerleading.

“Cheering for the team comes first, competition is second. We tell them that from day one and they all understand and agree,” Nelson said. “We don’t cheer to compete, we compete because we cheer.”

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