Chocowinity Middle School cheerleading takes first place at Hershey
Published 6:06 pm Monday, April 20, 2015
The bridge connecting Washington and Chocowinity was closed for repairs Monday afternoon, but construction was halted for a brief minute, allowing just one charter bus to pass, paying tribute to a team that left Beaufort County last week as underdogs and returned champions.
The Chocowinity Middle School cheer team traveled to Hershey, Pa., over the weekend to take part in the Hershey School/REC & Dance National Championship, an invitation-only competition held at the Hershey Park Arena that pitted the Indians against some of the best junior high schools squads in the country. One of the smallest teams at the competition, Chocowinity spun, twirling and flipped its way to first place in the Advanced Division.
“It was a very fast-paced routine with a lot of transitions, which ups the difficulty,” said head coach Jan Hill, who has directed the team for the last 15 years. “We push it to the max without doing anything beyond restrictions, a lot of one-legged stunts, flips, stuff like that to help increase the difficulty.”
Chocowinity earned a bid to the showcase after placing first overall at their annual summer camp, where they were pitted against other middle schools, as well as high school varsity and jayvee teams. Under Hill, this was the first year the team, which practices for two hours twice a week, has qualified for the national competition, as Chocowinity has traditionally participated in more regionally based exhibitions.
The girls took top honors by successfully executing a choreographed routine, one they’ve been working on since June, limiting mistakes, staying mechanically in sync and verbally cheering in unison.
“They work very well as a team, they push each other and they bond very well,” Hill said. “In the past you had little cliques and they may not mesh well, but this team meshes very well. They’re a very tight group of kids.”
Cheering on a 54-by-42-foot spring floor system, the team’s award-winning routine began with a minute long cheer that resembled something a fan would see during half time of a high school basketball game, though more complex, with amplified jumps and maneuvers. Then, the set transitioned into one-and-a-half-minute dance routine, where the cheerleaders twirled to a mix tape of about six to seven songs.
More than simply a competition, the trip to Hershey Park eye-opening experience for many of the kids who wouldn’t get to leave eastern North Carolina, otherwise, Hill said.
“A lot of them have never been out of Beaufort County and some of them have never been out of North Carolina, so I enjoyed that more than anything, taking them and giving them the experiences they normally wouldn’t get,” she said.