MACON, Ga. (WRBL) – The Georgia State Cheerleading Championship usually takes place in November, but because of the ongoing pandemic it was pushed back to Feb. 15-16, 2021. Columbus High School’s cheerleading team placed 7th out of 16 teams despite faces challenges in uncharted territory.
The extended schedule meant cheerleaders from all across the state were training and competing for three extra months this year, leading to numerous athletes having to balance practices for both All-Star (club cheer) and high school cheer.
Head Coach of Columbus High School’s cheerleading team, Christina Pelletier, said despite not hitting a flawless routine, she’s proud of her athletes and what they’ve accomplished, including becoming Region Champions.
“It’s been a long year but it’s been a rewarding year as well to see them overcome the challenges from COVID and the changes,” said Pelletier. “It has really been a good year.”
Not only was an extended schedule and exhaustion a curveball for these athletes, but exposure to COVID-19 and needing to quarantine forced them to have to continuously change and rework their routine, which in the cheer world is a huge complication.
“Sometimes it was hard to hold like full team practices, so working… like we’d have to work like individual skills, so we didn’t get as much group time as we might have wanted,” said Sumerlyn Dawson, a senior cheerleader for Columbus High. “But in the end we all came together and made it work, so that’s what matters the most.”
The competition is usually held in the Columbus Civic Center, but this year it was held over an hour and a half away in Macon. Assistant Coach Elise Higgins, said experiencing uncertainty due to quarantine have to occur just a month before the competition, put things in perspective for these athletes.
“There are some teams that qualified for state that couldn’t come and compete because of COVID reasons, so I think we’re just lucky that we were able to make it here,” said Higgins. “We were able to stay safe and healthy this whole season, despite all the obstacles we had.”
When asked what the four senior cheerleaders were going to miss most the answer was unanimous, this team and this season. They insisted the challenges only brought the team closer together and made them stronger than ever before.