The Red Mountain High School spirit line has been having a record-breaking year and it is not finished yet.
The varsity cheer team, one of five teams that make up the spirit line, has been building momentum all season to finish strong this weekend, March 20-22, at the USA Nationals competition in Anaheim, California. They have finished in first place at four competitions this season.
“This is the first year that Red Mountain has done an amazing job continuously,” said varsity cheer coach Dalia Garcia-Ellington in an interview. “This is our fourth first place receiving in the competitions that we have gone to, and now with nationals coming up on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, we are hoping to come back victorious as well.”
The team qualified to attend nationals in November, according to Coach Garcia-Ellington.
“The girls have gone an amazing job, and they have those wonderful attitudes that they want it, it’s not just the coaches that want it, the girls want it as well,” said Coach Ellington. “I think that’s what has led us to victory so far.”
Three of the five teams on the spirit line will be attending nationals: varsity cheer, pom and the five-man team. Last year at nationals the team made it to the second day of finals, but team members are hoping for better results this year.
“We do this every year but each year we get closer and closer. Last year we made it to the second day of finals; we were the only Arizona team to make it to the second day of finals so that was a big deal for us anyway,” said senior Gabby Burchett. “We were already excited and then we still ended up getting fifth, which was really good for us. This year we have already been having a better streak so we have a higher expectation.”
Coach Garcia-Ellington said the biggest hurdle the team has had to overcome is injuries.
“We kicked adversity in the butt like no other,” said Coach Garcia-Ellington. “When the girls came back from (winter) break, I had four girls that were out. That’s a lot for a team.”
Having to overcome multiple injuries on the team this season has been difficult, but they have pushed through it together, according to senior Alyssa Ingurgio.
“It’s definitely a team effort, because if one of us is hurt we have a stunt-group down,” said Ingurgio.
The girls have weight training in the morning during their first hour and then team practice directly after that, according to the girls on the team.
“A lot of people were getting hurt too because we work out a lot,” said Burchett. “That one time when you’re really tired but you do it one more time, you end up hurt.”
Burchett says Coach Garcia-Ellington works the team really hard, and that is why they have been able to overcome all these obstacles.
“We had a competition in January and it was tough. We were competing against Desert Ridge, who is really good, and I wanted to take it,” said Coach Garcia-Ellington. “The girls, including myself at the very beginning, wanted to throw in the towel and say it wasn’t working. We had to pull four girls out and pull two girls up (from junior varsity) and we had to change so many things, but we did. With tears and struggle and frustration, we still kept that positive attitude.”
The Red Mountain high cheer team took first place in that competition.
“That was one of the first competitions I truly felt like, ‘wow, these girls got it,’” said Coach Garcia-Ellington.
To follow along with the team while it is competing, follow its Twitter page, @RedMtnCheer.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, there will be an informational parent meeting for upcoming try outs in the small gym at Red Mountain High School, 7301 E. Brown Road in Mesa. Coach Garcia-Ellington said the team try outs for the 2015-16 school year will be in April.
Reach staff writer Melissa Fittro at email@example.com