EDUCATION SPOTLIGHT: Cheer team ends season with winning streak

Apr. 20—The Grand View Chargers Blue Blaze cheer team has been on a winning streak this season, taking home second and first at virtual and in-person competitions.

Sierra Coltrane, Grand View School's early childhood special education teacher and cheer coach, said the team competed four times this year, with each contest being within a month of one another. The team produced a second place at the first competition, but first place was brought home from the other contests. The team also won high-point champion for the whole recreational division at the last contest.

For the grand champion title, Coltrane said, the group competed against five squads, with one being a senior team.

Dawn Cox, Grand View fourth-grade English Language Arts teacher and cheer coach, said that this season, the team didn't hesitate to try out skills they worked on until they were successful.

"Between the first and second competition, we mafe changes and add difficulty, and they ran with it, nailing it within a week," Cox said. "We were able to share the judges' comments and scores with them, and they made the changes needed to receive a higher score. In the last competition, they had improved their score by almost 24 points, in a world where a 10th of a point can be the difference between first and fourth place."

The cheer program has been in a rebuilding phase since the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has slowly been growing, with the first year back having one team with 15 members, and the second producing 29 members split between two teams. This year, the district had two teams, with 32 members in total.

"With 12 returners on our varsity team, Grand View Chargers Blue Blaze, we were able to add more difficulty to a faster routine," Cox said. "It was the first time we had competed virtually and in double the competitions. Our program is completely funded through fundraising, and our sponsors are a big part of that. Without our parents and community sponsors, none of this would be possible."

Coltrane said the virtual competitions pitted the team against districts from across the U.S.

"With virtual competitions, you lose bright lights, in-person judges, ability to watch your competitors, and large crowd to perform in front of," Coltrane said. "However, you gain the ability to do the routine in a comfortable and familiar environment and cut out the expense of traveling and admission for families."

Coltrane and Cox said even though the team was a mixture of first-year and returning members, observers couldn't tell the difference by the end of the season. The coaches said the team took each challenge thrown their way and "ran with it" this year.

"We hope that they learn that their actions don't only impact them personally, but often have an effect on others," Cox said. "We hope that this experience gives them confidence and positive leadership skills that carries the belief that they can achieve."

Cheer can help students with leadership skills, confidence, physicality, and education, and Cox said it also teaches them how to build others up.

"We live in a world that leans toward tearing others down instead of lifting them up," Cox said. "When we talk to our squads we tell them their job as a cheerleader is to build people up, not tear them down. On the sideline, it is their job to continue to cheer for and bring energy to the team and fans, no matter what the score is."