It’s been brought!
Cheer squad wins big at camp
The Tonganoxie High School cheer squad was the big winner at a recent Universal Cheerleaders Association camp last month in Salina. The effort also qualified two cheerleaders to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade later this year.
The THS squad was one of 11 teams at the camp June 17-20 on the Kansas Wesleyan University campus.
The team placed first overall and first in both varsity sideline championship and home routine. THS also won the Banana Award, which is given to the overall most spirited team on the last day of camp.
Individually, Allison Thompson and Haley Sparks were named All-Americans, which means they will perform during the Macy’s parade in November in New York City.
Thompson, a senior captain, said the girls had the choice of performing in NYC, Orlando around Christmas or Hawaii for the NFL Pro Bowl.
They went with The Big Apple.
“It’s exciting because it’s on TV,” said Thompson, a senior and team captain. “Last year, we actually saw a couple of the girls on TV, so that was really cool.”
Emily Mitchell won the Pin It Forward award, which is given to the camper who most exemplifies leadership, spirit, commitment to excellence, kindness and motivation.
Jessa Thorne, Thompson and Sparks also were offered the opportunity to try out to be future UCA instructors. As a team, the squad also placed second in the extreme routine competition.
Coach Stacy McElderry, who is in her second year as THS cheer coach, said it was a significant showing.
“I was very impressed and super excited for the girls,” she said. “I’m pretty sure this is the best they’ve ever done at camp.”
In the Varsity Sideline Championship, a camp organizer served as a game announcer giving “play-by-play” from a game and the cheer squads had to do cheers based on the scenario.
For the home routine, Tonganoxie squad members collaborated to choreograph a routine set to music.
“That’s the first time we’ve performed it in front of everybody,” said Marissa Martin, a senior captain.
Thorne, the third captain on this year’s squad, said it was a breakthrough season for the team.
“I think we did wonderful compared to the years prior,” she said. “I was really proud of my team.”
Last month’s camp is a continuation of the cheer squad season, which basically runs year-round. April is the only month the squad doesn’t perform or practice, but members usually raise funds that month.
The team practices throughout the school year, normally at 6 a.m., and performs during the fall and winter seasons. Cheerleaders also perform at various parades and festivals.
Martin said she prefers cheering on Chieftain teams on the sports fields.
“I like the actual game days,” Martin said. “Being on the sidelines; not so much the performances. I like the more ‘go team’ stuff.”
Thompson said she preferred times spent behind the scenes.
“My favorite part of cheer is the stuff nobody sees,” she said. “Not while we’re performing but before games, in between games, the bus rides there and back. … This squad is definitely a family. And we’ve all become very close friends.”
Thorne had similar sentiments.
“What I appreciate most would probably be everyone on the squad,” Thorne said. “Everyone is amazing. We all get along very well. I just appreciate that we’re a family now.”
The squad will prepare for the Leavenworth County Fair Parade later this month and fall sports events after that.
McElderry said she was proud of what the team had accomplished and looks forward to the coming school year.
“I attribute a lot of our success to the senior leadership we have,” said McElderry, whose assistant coach is Mary Welsh. “They’re really a good group of seniors.”