Two Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute cheerleaders are members of Team Cheer Savannah. The Cheer Savannah senior squad recently competed in Atlanta at the Cheersport National Championship on Feb. 5-6 and won the first-place trophy.
Liberty County High School senior cheerleader Christina Troche, who is new to the Team Savannah squad, said she has mixed feeling about the experience."It’s sad because it was my first and last year with them, but it was a big accomplishment," she said. "Especially when compared to how we were doing at the beginning of the year. We had to pull it together, start tumbling as a team. And we took first place as a team."
Troche said she was 10 when she started cheering.
"My mom used to be my coach and I used to cheer at the recreation department," she said. "I’ve cheered all my life. It’s in my blood."
Jasmine Jordan, a sophomore cheerleader at Bradwell Institute, said she got involved with the Savannah squad two years ago after she took a tumbling class and team representatives asked her to join.
She said she started out as a dancer and switched to cheerleading in middle school. Jordan admitted to being nervous about the national competition.
"At first it was kind of scary, but my mom was there and it became fun," Jordan said. "I do it for the fun."
Both girls agree cheering for Team Cheer Savannah requires more athleticism than cheering during regular high school sporting events.
"The tumbling is more advanced," Troche said. "You have to lift weights and run more than you do in high school."
"I’ve gotten hurt many times," Jordan said. "You do a lot of work. You get sore. There is a lot of running and lifting up the girls and it’s a sport."
Troche said people who think cheerleading isn’t a sport should check out the complicated maneuvers and dynamic routines her squad perfects before each meet.
She wants to be a cheerleader in college and attend the University of Miami.
Jordan said she would like to take a break from cheering next year, but still attend tumbling classes.
"I’ll probably start again my senior year and hopefully get a scholarship," Jordan said.
She said she wants to attend Georgia State and cheer for the football team.
Team Savannah took four teams comprised of nearly 100 athletes ranging from ages 6-18. The younger squad won second place.
"This team deserved the honor more than any team in the gym," Team Savannah head coach Stephanie Britt said. "This particular senior team is made up of girls who spent all last season as runners up. They even struggled this year to make their routine."
But the coach said the senior squad perfectly executed its routine on day one of the two-day competition, making a play at the trophy from the start.
The coach said the team’s toughest competition trailed by only 1 point at the end of the first day.
She said the girls took the stage on the final day of the competition knowing that one mistake would garner a second-place finish.
"The girls rose to the occasion, performing the routine of their life," Britt said. "The determination by the girls had every parent watching in tears. Even some of the team members were crying before the routine was over as they knew by the end, when only the dance was left, that they had just accomplished their dream of attaining the Cheersport National champions."
The girls come from around the region, including Hilton Head, Bluffton, Liberty County and all over the Coastal Empire. The team practices twice a week, all year round.