On Nov. 13, the Leesville Cheerleading squad placed second in their Small Varsity in the NCHSAA State Cheerleading Championships at the Convention Center. They managed to do well despite having completely changed their routine due to a player injury. Sarah Bush, part of the junior varsity squad, became a substitute for Kristen Ross and learned the routine in two days.
“I was the cheerleader for the cheerleaders,” said Ross, senior. Because she strained her quad and could not participate, she watched from the audience and screamed loudly in encouragement.
“I was just as nervous as if I was with them,” said Ross. “I know how it looks when it’s bad, but they deserved second place.”
Devyn Youmans, senior, did not mind having a member of the JV squad take part in the competition. “I was fine with that since I love Sarah.”
“She had been pulled up earlier, so she already knew what was going on,” said Youmans. “She’s a really good cheerleader, and she’s a hard worker.”
“You can tell [Sarah] really likes cheerleading. She didn’t get pulled up and act like she’s better than everyone,” said Taylor Wooten, senior. “We couldn’t have done anything without her.”
“I felt really welcome,” said Sarah Bush, sophomore. “Everybody is really nice. We get a long really good.”
“I had to make some adjustments… These girls have been doing it from the beginning of the year and I had just started,” said Bush. “It was a really good opportunity for me to show Coach I’m ready for next year.”
Ragsdale took first place on Saturday, although Leesville beat them last year by a landslide. “This year we would have done a lot better, but we had to change everything,” said Wooten. “We weren’t really ready.”
“We worked together and managed to pull it together,” said Ross.
Before the competition, the girls repeatedly ran through the routine. During that last session, they performed in front of their peers.
The day of the competition, before taking the stage, they stretch for five minutes on one mat, then are allowed to the next set to tumble and practice stunts for another five minutes, then are given the full floor to practice their whole routine.
Ross said, “Coach lets us practice how we feel is necessary.”
During the performance, Youman’s mind is clear. “I don’t really think about anything during- it’s all adrenaline.”
Afterwards, Youmans said she felt tired. The rest of the team experienced fatigue, but some worse than that. “Many girls got sick because it’s so physically demanding,” said Youmans.
“I mostly feel proud of the team; we did well considering what happened,” said Youmans.
“I think we did the best we could have done,” said Wooten. “I was really proud of everybody.”