The cheer team placed first in their virtual state competition Sunday, Feb. 21 after winning their first state championship last year.
Head cheer coach Brooke Wojcik said that they had much less time to prepare this year than last year. They had to take breaks from practice as players were put into quarantine mid-season yet still qualified in two separate divisions, she added.
“We had trouble with consistency after [the district] had a break from sports in December,” Wojcik said. “We had to re-roster some people, and the whole JV team had to quarantine the week leading up to regionals.”
Wojcik said that she became more hopeful of a state run once the team began to have in-person practices at the end of August and was pleasantly surprised when she saw the quality of the team.
“Having lost eight seniors from the team that won last year, I was not sure we had huge expectations at first, but once we started to have contact practices and were able to see that people were stepping up, we started to feel the pressure to win again,” Wojcik said.
The team suffered several injuries that made it even more difficult to retain a consistent team, she added, but the team worked hard to keep preparing for the competitions.
“Last year, we were so excited to just qualify for state and our goal was to be top three,” Wojcik said.
It felt expected for the team to qualify this year, even though it was the first time they had qualified in two different divisions, she added.
Wojcik explained that for regionals in January, they filmed for three days straight and then submitted a video of their best routine that the judges viewed one time.
She said she was aware that there would be much more competition this year, especially because teams can refilm their routine until they deem it perfect.
“We have also noticed a lot of schools are competing elements, skills and choreo very similar to what we did last year, so we know other teams are watching and we have a target on our backs,” Wojcik said.
Wojcik explained that winning the championship for a second year in a row was fulfilling for her and the team.
“For a lot of kids and coaches, being able to participate in sports was our bright spot,” she said. “Regardless of the wins, I hope that my kids are proud of themselves and their teammates.”
Freshman Noa Pitstick said that despite personally never having competed in a state competition before, she felt that the team was prepared for anything because of the many adjustments they made throughout the season.
“The process has been hard with injuries and people having to quarantine,” Pitstick said.
She added that she has found that teamwork and camaraderie are the most essential components of their success because they create a fun and encouraging environment.
“I think sometimes everyone gets stressed out when things are not working out, but if we try to stay positive and work together, we are able to succeed and we performed well,” Pitstick said.
She explained that it became effortless for the team to cooperate because of the relationships that were built.
“Our team has gotten pretty close, which I think helps because we can hype each other up and it makes it easier to work together,” Pitstick added.
Wojcik said she feels bad for freshmen like Pitstick who are missing out on the chance to perform in front of a crowd and learning how to handle pressure.
“Not having a crowd is hard,” Wojcik explained. “Hitting those routines requires a lot of energy, and you feed off of the crowd for that.”
Wojcik is still thankful that the players have continued to work hard and fight for where they are at, she said.
“Above all else we strive to go out and hit the most difficult elements that we can, cleanly,” she added. “You will never see us compete something that looks like it hasn’t been practiced a million times.”
She explained that the hard work and dedication helped them perform better than their opponents and win the competition.
“Everyone was 100% all in, and that made the difference,” she said. “This was a truly awesome group to coach.”
Wojcik added that the years to come are promising, and she hopes to produce more state titles with the solid number of returning varsity competitors.
¨The team created a positive and hard-working environment that I am hopeful we can carry on throughout the following seasons,” Wojcik said.