Woods Cross High School cheer team wins 2nd place nationals titleApr 08, 2022 01:02PM ● By Hannah Sandorf Davis
In February the Woods Cross High School cheer team traveled to Anaheim to compete in the national cheer competition. The team won second place in the Advanced Show Cheer category, setting themselves apart as one of the best cheer squads in the country. The team of 24 cheerleaders prepared for months, competing at the regional and state level before moving on to nationals.
This is not the first time Woods Cross has gone to nationals, but it is the first time they have competed at this level. “We’ve been to nationals before when Sloan Bailey was coach, but we were competing at an intermediate level,” said cheer coach Nichole Robertson. “Qualifying for the advanced category is much more difficult. There are tumbling skill requirements that over 50 percent of the cheerleaders have to perform to compete at this level.”
Robertson said that the team was especially tenacious this year because of COVID-19. “The seniors really wanted to win. They have not been able to compete much due to the pandemic and it really means a lot to them to have secured this win.” She said the pandemic has made the team tough and willing to take the time and bruises it takes to perfect difficult tumbling and dance moves. Being a national runner-up has helped to validate that hard work.
Qualifying for high levels of competition, said Robertson, is increasingly difficult. “Girls have to start young to be able to compete at this level. This team is made up of girls who have been doing all-star competitive cheerleading or extreme competitive dance for years.” If students do not start young it is difficult to gain the skill level necessary to clear the more difficult skills.
In the national competition, Utah schools stood out. Robertson said that most of the schools they were competing against were from Utah and Arizona despite the competition’s location in California. “The Show Cheer category was particularly heavy with schools from Utah,” she said. Her thoughts on this are that it may be due to the higher number of children born in Utah. Known as the state with the youngest average population, Utah over-represents among America’s youth.
Another factor may be the culture of Utah cheer. “I do feel like it is taken very seriously in this state. It’s competitive in a way I have not seen in other areas,” said Robertson. For the next year, Robertson thinks Woods Cross might shrink the squad for the girls to all be on the same level. With girls at many different levels, she said, it can be hard to create routines that allow the team to shine.
Ultimately, though, the next year’s team will not be Robertson’s decision. “I’m leaving coaching to focus on my kids and the competitions they are interested in,” she said. This includes her 8-year-old daughter who will follow her mom’s footsteps into the cheer competition world. “Youth competitions are tough. I want to be there to be able to support my family. I will never really be able to leave cheer, though, it’s a huge part of me.” l