The weekend had finally arrived, and with it, the competition that Colorado Cheer Athletes have been preparing for since last year at the same time…The CHSAA Cheerleading State Championships.
If you’ve never been a very competitive person, its hard to imagine the long hours of preparation, rehab, reworking, defeat as well as successes that go into pushing yourself to be the very best at what you do…and all the while realizing that hundreds of other athletes are doing the exact same thing in order to compete at the highest level. Hoping and praying that when it counts, everything will come together perfectly and all of the blood sweat and tears will amount to victory in the form of a first place finish…
This past weekend, not only one, but two teams out of the Elite Performance Sports training facilities did just that: With over 40 teams in each Division: the top 8 advance to Finals, and only one would be named Champion!!
The Douglas County Huskies
DYNASTY: A POWERFUL GROUP OR FAMILY THAT MAINTAINS ITS POSITION FOR A CONSIDERABLE TIME
REIGN: THE PERIOD OF RULE, DOMINANCE AND/SWAY…
These are the words that have been thrown out to describe the last 4 years of Cheerleading in Colorado when referring to the Coed program at Douglas County Highschool.
Taking a look at the results dating from 2007, when DC first burst onto the scene as State Champions, until last year, when the coed program from Castle Rock, CO. cracked the top 6 at the National level, its no wonder that few have questioned whether the stranglehold that DC has held over the Coed division would ever be relinquished.
Unlike the Chaparral Wolverines, winners in the 5A allgirl division, who had lofty expectations of a State title but knew that the competition was stiff, these DC Huskies were expected to win… the only question left was what kind of performance would they put on.
Training a Coed cheerleading team is a very trick thing: First, there is the chemistry aspect as there are no other sports team that I can think of that is made up of coed. Second, because of the way that the Coed category is scored, you are asking prepubescent boys, many of whom have yet to hit a major growth spurt, to accomplish skills that Allgirl teams are performing with 3-4 girls. Nevertheless, Douglas County has made a tradition of mastering the Coed score sheet, turning it on win it counts, and walking away time after time as State Champion.
This year, however, seemed different. After 4 consecutive years at the top, the expectation of winning seems an afterthought, but factor in the departing seniors, who were such strong leaders for so long… the freshman, who’s talent had allowed them to bypass the typical fresh/ JV squad and right of passage… And finally the long road of preparation. So the question wasn’t whether the Huskies could compete for a record 5 straight state titles, but rather what would this team look like when they got there!
The scarcity of Coed teams in Colorado meant that the Huskies had little to compare themselves to as the season progressed. Instead, the scoresheet was used to push the skills. Using the comments that judges left after each competition, the DC coaches tried as often as possible to continue to push the skill limitations of their athletes, all the while remembering that oftentimes at State the cleanest routines win.
The Continental League Competition was the first time that the Huskies managed to make it through a complete routine free of any major mistakes which brought yet another 1st place finish along with loads of confidence. The freshman class stepped up in the way that the coaching staff had expected, the upperclassman began to take leadership on and off the mat, but more importantly, the routine started to look CLEAN. A clean routine is the most that any coach can ever ask from their athletes. Clean means that not only was everything performed the way it was choreographed, but also that it was free of mistakes and most importantly…It looked Easy. And, with the level of difficulty that the Huskies had been asked to perform, this was where the Coaching staff wanted to be at this point in the season.
Keeping things in perspective the day of State, priority number one was and is always to make finals. Not taking anything for granted, the Huskies were prepared as they focused on not taking any unnecessary penalties and simply doing what they had been training for since Choreography in August. From start to finish, that particular performance may have been the best performance that COUNTY has ever put on the STATE mat. a single touchdown on tumbling cost the Huskies .5, a minor penalty that wouldn’t prove costly. The question moving forward wasn’t if they would make finals, but how far they had distanced themselves from everyone else!
If you’ve ever read a book and thought you knew exactly how it was going to end, only to get there and discover something totally different, then you’ll understand how the coaches felt as the 6 Finals teams were posted along with the scores. Douglas County was in 2nd place by 7 points…
After what seemed like a lifetime of questioning, both internally as well as aloud, the coaches were informed that there was an error in the postings, and that DC had indeed scored the high point in semi-finals. Although relieved, the scoring gaffe had had a sobering affect, as the realization that a simple mistake, warranted or not, could prevent the Huskies from attaining that elusive 5th straight trophy.
Maybe to the outsiders a 5th straight State Championship seemed inevitable, but to the coaches and athletes, nothing was taken for granted. The athletes talked to each other with every step that they took. Encouraging one another, warning of too many steps that may take them out of bounds, all the while summoning the poise and confidence that comes from setting a milestone. By all accounts, the Huskies Finals performance was…Relieving. When the final lyric was played and the applause erupted from the stands, no stunts had fallen, no one had stepped off the mat and everyone was well aware of what had just happened, the announcement was only needed to validate it.
The Huskies previous 4 year reign was typified by a scoring margin as slim as one point and as great as 3, leaving many wondering what if… What if the other teams had been a little cleaner… What if the Huskies had made the smallest mistake… There would be no what ifs Friday night, as the Huskies won in triumphant fashion, besting the next closet competitor by nearly 8 points!!
5 years, an entire hand, half a decade… no matter how you say it, the number sounds surreal in terms of Championship streaks! Here’s to COUNTY… and their impressive REIGN!