The Leesville Road High School cheer team hit a major milestone this February when they traveled to ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida for the national high school cheerleading championships. Leesville placed thirteenth.
Leesville qualified for nationals by winning the Carolina Cup, placing them first in the state. At the state championships, any team that scores high enough on the rubric for their division qualifies to move on to nationals. In North Carolina, only six teams qualified to go to nationals.
“What lead us to nationals was everyone, since day one of tryouts, had the same goal in mind, and that was to get there and have a very successful season. Regardless of how many hours we’d have to put in the gym, and all the work we’d have to put in, it would all be worth it,” said Noah Czajkowski, a senior and co-captain.
Cheerleaders practiced five hours per week, not including games, to prepare for the competition. They put in a lot of hard work and dedication, not to mention the extra hours the athletes put in at the gym to condition themselves.
As the first Leesville cheer team to make it to nationals, they set themselves apart from past teams. “Our skill is higher than it’s ever been, but I think another thing that really helps us, that I’ve never seen in past years, is the bond that this team has,” said Ashley Van Slyck, a senior and cheer captain.
“They make me proud to be their coach every single day. They are so humble. They are so much better than they even believe they can be, and I’ve had the best year. Twelve years coaching and this has been the best, by far. They are great, great kids,” said Shelly Reathaford, cheer coach.
This year, Leesville proved they had the capabilities to make it to nationals. Hopefully, the first time of many.