Time to compete
Southern Lee’s cheerleaders take center stage multiple times each night when the Cavaliers host a night full of basketball at Cavalier Court.
The Cavalier cheerleading team will have center stage, and the competition, all to itself on Saturday when Southern Lee hosts the Cape Fear Valley Conference Cheerleading Championship for the first time.
The championship is one time a year all seven cheerleading teams in the Cape Fear Valley get to showcase their sport and compete for a victory. The Cavaliers have been working toward Saturday since before their fall season started in August.
“I believe that when you work as a team, the results will speak for themselves,” said Southern Lee head coach Sandy Yarborough, who’s been coaching the Cavs since last year’s winter season.
Team-building started at the outset of the fall season with a trip to a challenge course at North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Rope courses, climbing and zip lining tested the Cavs individually and as a unit.
The team took on another project in January, making Cavalier-themed “Cav Pride” paintings which are on display around Southern Lee.
Growing as a team is valuable all to itself. The end result is meant to be improvement in what everyone sees out of the Cavaliers, whether its during a basketball game or in front of judges this Saturday.
“We are working very hard to build a program that would enhance our competitiveness with other squads in our conference,” Yarborough said.
“They train just like any other athlete to ensure they are the best they can be on and off the court,” she said.
In a Cavalier cheer practice, the idea of “you play how you practice” is in full effect. Voice inflection has to be 100 percent, the same as under the lights or in a packed gym. Safety, let alone making strides on the competitive routine, demands discipline and teammates being on the same page.
Stunts, pyramids, jumps, baskets, technique, dance choreography, tumbling passes, overall crowd appeal and overall difficulty of the routine as a whole are all taken into account in the conference championship, Yarborough said.
Working to the conference meet has been part of practices since before football season, but has been picking up as the championship draws near.
BreAnn Coleman, a former cheerleader at Southern Lee and N.C. State, has choreographed the routine. Kevin Briggs, coach and choreographer at Cheer Extreme gym in Sanford, “has put in countless hours working on perfecting our routine with stunts,” said Yarborough.
The Cavalier cheerleading team is: Sierra Addington, Lindsay Ashworth, Meghan Baker, Emily Brummett, Selena Burchette, Daisy Chang, Hunter Coleman, Katelin Franklin, Cheyenne Gasper, Alora Johnson, Radney Johnson, Emma Lassen, Margrianna McLain, Kayla Ray, Melissa Stec, Phoenix Stein, Shaina Toomer, Micayla Watts, Madison Weidner, Logan Wenger, Cameron Wilson, Kelsey Yarnell and Maggie Yow. Franklin and Wenger are co-captains.
“Ninety-eight percent” of the team has earned Academic All-Conference honors and many of the Cavs are also involved in the National Honor Society, Student Government Association, more clubs and community work with churches or volunteer organizations, Yarborough said.
The Cape Fear Valley Conference Cheerleading Championship is set for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. The middle school cheer teams from East Lee, SanLee and West Lee and club teams from ICE and Cheer Extreme will perform exhibition routines. The Cavs will have vendors and concessions available.