Varsity cheer overcomes adversity and secures a bid to Nationals at Disney


Seslee Sagbiel

LOUD AND PROUD: Senior Emma Jellison gets lifted into the air at the Del Valle game. Performing difficult stunts and hyping up fans is a large part of cheering at football games.

Amilia Velez, Dispatch Reporter

Aine Flaherty takes a deep breath and opens her mouth to cheer loudly for her friends as the Bowie High School Varsity cheer team takes the mat at their competition.

The varsity cheer team competed at the UCA Regionals, which were held in Louisville, Texas on November 14. This was the first competition of the year for the cheerleaders, and the team was hoping to get a bid to UCA Nationals in Disney World. 

“A few weeks before the competition I got hit while practicing and got a concussion,” Flaherty said. “This was a huge bummer to me because I was unable to compete with my teammates as a senior. However, it gave me a new perspective of the competition. I was able to shift my attitude and become the support of the team and cheer my teammates on throughout their practices and competition.”

The varsity cheerleaders placed third in the traditional category. They ended up securing a bid to Nationals after the judges picked select teams to compete with schools from all over the country.

“Everyone on the team was ecstatic to be able to perform at Disney,” Flaherty said. “Especially us seniors because it meant we would be able to compete together again.”

It was not all smooth sailing for the cheerleaders. The girls had to face several challenges such as limited practice space and multiple injuries.

“I was very proud of my team, and even if not everything hit, we still have worked as hard as we could to get where we are,” senior Emma Jellison said. “We have had to change our routine so many times because of many injuries, and we were having to practice outside on the track. We were able to adapt to changing the routine so many times and still did the best we could.”

The team spent countless hours practicing and preparing for this competition and they will need to continue practicing all of their routines before the upcoming nationals competition.

“We knew we didn’t do as good as we wanted but we are now fixing the routine so we can get a better score at the next competitions,” Jellison said. “The low score of this competition has resulted in the team working harder so we can do better at UIL and Disney.”

With the obstacles they’ve faced, the cheerleaders knew they had more work to do to be before with their upcoming competitions. Flaherty believed that a positive mindset would help the team work together.

“I think the results motivated us as a team even more,” Flaherty said. “The results gave us some goals to work towards and made us motivated to meet those goals.” 

Along with the girls on the team getting feedback from the competition, cheer coach Alyssa Alex received feedback on how to take the routine to the next level.

“All the judges said that they were impressed overall, but that we needed to spend more time cleaning the small details such as footwork and motion placement,”Alex said. “I got some feedback on needing to add some more floor work and ripples to add some more ‘wow factor.’”

This competition is just the beginning for the cheer team and they have more opportunities to show their skills in other UCA competitions. 

“I am proud of what we accomplished at the competition,” Alex said. “It was not perfect, and we have some cleaning up and work to do, but the team powered through a lot of changes and not ideal conditions. This is definitely the most resilient group of athletes I have worked with. They were determined to do well so they took the hits that came at them, kept their heads high and accomplished their goals.”