Local cheer teams headed to top competitions

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS MOVING FOWARD: Fifth grader Katie Council leads her team, the Leopards, through a routine back in March.

MOVING FOWARD: Fifth grader Katie Council leads her team, the Leopards, through a routine back in March.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — When coaches Misty and Charlie Brown opened Tumble B Gym three years ago, the thought of traveling up and down the East Coast month after month, leading one of the area’s top cheer teams, was merely a dream. The ambition was there and both had the necessary experience to lead, but to build a program that quickly would surely take time.

On Sunday, the ECCATS found themselves traveling up Highway 17 from Myrtle Beach after what should have been the final competition of the year. However, the team’s cheer season is far from over.

All four of the gym’s teams placed first and were named National Champions at Eastern Cheer and Dance last weekend. The AristoCats, the “tiny” team consisting of eight girls ages 4 to 6, finished the season undefeated, while the Wildcats, the “mini” team comprised of girls ages 6 to 9, now hold both regional and national titles.

And after their sterling performance over the weekend, the Lions, Tumbe B Gym’s “senior” team (ages 10-18), earned a paid bid to the U.S. Finals in Virginia Beach on May 9 and 10.

But it’s been the Leopards, the gym’s “junior” squad (ages 9-12), which has pieced together the most impressive resume in 2015. In March, the Leopards earned a bid to The Summit, the first of two major organized U.S. cheerleading competitions, the other being the U.S. Finals. And last weekend, the team made history once again by also earning a paid bid to the U.S. Finals, locking up a spot in two of the biggest national showcases in cheerleading.

“It’s been extremely rewarding to watch all four of our teams for the past two competitions each walk away with first place finishes in their division,” Misty Brown said. “A clean sweep as a gym is quite an accomplishment, but for this happen at the past two competitions is really a testament to the talented and hardworking athletes here in our area.”

The Leopards will travel to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Friday for The Summit before traveling back up the East Coast to compete alongside the Lions at the U.S. Finals in Virginia Beach the following weekend. For the Leopards to advance to the Sunday part of The Summit, the team must place in the top half of the division.

“They continue to consistently amaze all of (the coaches),” Brown said. “Whether it is a regional competition in Jacksonville or a national competition in Myrtle Beach, they continue to produce first place performances.”

“We hope that they are learning that when they put their hearts and minds to something there is no limit to what they can accomplish.”

The championship competitions are put on by the two leading names in cheerleading — Varsity for The Summit and JAM Brands for the U.S. Finals. This year’s The Summit showcase will feature an additional 160 teams competing within the wild card round, while the U.S. Finals will feature over 1700 teams.

After bringing in different choreographers to critique and perfect their respective routines, both the Leopards and Lions have decided to cease making changes and go with what they have.