“This team works very hard to change the traditional perspectives of what a high school cheerleading team should look like or what they use to look like,” said varsity cheer coach Christina Bell. “They work hard to be athletes and I am very proud of their commitment to that idea.”
The West Stokes squad completed a stunt clinic in June and jumped into 6 to 9 a.m. practices early in July. The group is gearing up for their annual cheer camp with The Edge next week.
“They all have tumbling, stunt and strength training goals and we’re working very hard to make them happen. For instance, we have set new tumbling goals for our routines which consist of four standing back tucks and I am confident that we’ll meet that goal,” Bell said.
The coach believes the team’s athletic ability on the varsity level is as strong as it’s ever been.
“They have to be strong in body and mind to overcome the obstacle needed to perform at a higher athletic level. They are lifting people constantly so leg and arm strength are necessary. They are tumbling which consists of a good cardio and strength regimen in order to help strengthen their skills. Flexibility is also very important in all aspects of cheerleading,” she said.
And their hard work is paying off.
The squad has been invited to compete in the NewBridge Bank Invitational on Thursday, August 13.
In Bell’s first year coaching her team came in last place, but in 2014 finished second.
“Of course, we’re gunning for first this year,” she said. “The competition is so great for the schools who participate. For our team it’s the first thing we look forward to at the beginning of our season. It’s our kick off and because West Stokes cheer has never won in all the years participating, we have made it our goal to claim it.”
In preparation the squad has raised the stakes by adding higher level of difficulties in stunting, tumbling, cheer, and dance.
Bell believes at times cheerleading doesn’t get the credit it deserves as a sport but she’s worked tirelessly to change that mindset within her own program.
“Our goal is for students to learn and achieve the same goals they would with other physically demanding sports. They have well succeeded at doing this and I would love to see them reap the benefits,” she said. “We look forward to cheering for our school, teams, and community.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at (336) 813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.