by Hale Hughes
The Woodville cheer squad is traveling to the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area to compete in the UIL State Cheerleading competition. Woodville is returning as a state finalist from 2016 and they have their sights on doing even better this year.
Leading the squad this year is Kerri Reagan. This is her first year at the helm of the cheer team. Reagan said that she is taking 23 cheerleaders from Woodville to the competition.
According to Reagan, the cheer squad has been working on building their cheer routine all year, and heavily focusing on competition cheering since right after Thanksgiving. Cheer members have been watching videos of themselves performing this year as well as at last year's inaugural competition as well as other winning squads to use every angle as an advantage for this year's competition. Reagan believes the experience of having been there before will help this year's squad.
"We raised the bar this year," said Reagan. "This year in our cheer we are doing stunts, which we didn't do last year. The stunts consist of a prep and a full in which cheerleaders will be lifted fully by other cheerleaders with everyone's arms fully extended, and we have four stunts that will be executed simultaneously in unison." She continued, "It will be a little more nerve-racking, a little more pressure and they must hit them and do them perfect." Reagan believes that if the team performs flawlessly, the Eagle cheerleaders have a great opportunity to return to finals.
Reagan said that over 400 teams from across the state are scheduled to be at the competition, so the competition level is expected to be tough. Nerves are sure to be an issue, but Reagan believes that the upperclassmen will be able to help there to eliminate those types of issues. "Many cheer members consider cheer to be their sport and their platform, "Reagan stated. "Some people think, 'oh...it's just cheerleading', but if you've ever been to a camp or a competition of this level, you can see just how intense and how grueling and demanding this sport is." Reagan didn't hold back when addressing competing in the cheer realm. "There is a mental aspect to cheering as well, just as there is to other stick and ball sports," she said. "If you are not mentally ready and you have someone up, you can really hurt someone. You must work as a team and communicate."
Reagan praised the UIL for making cheerleading a competitive sport. Reagan said, "These young people now realize they can win a state trophy, a state ring, and a UIL state medal for their work and they take a great deal of pride in that." Senior head cheerleader Victoria Scoggins was also interviewed. Scoggins is this year's head cheerleader and has cheered for Woodville since seventh grade. In addition to high school cheer, she has also participated in competitive cheering with a gym in Lufkin for the past five years. She says it's given her a unique perspective as far as stunting goes and she feels like the Eagles have a great chance to win state. Scoggins echoed Reagan's sentiment. "The state trophy, medals, and rings look just like that of any of the other sports, and we can go out there and get ours," said Scoggins. "Honestly, I believe in our squad," Scoggins added. "I believe if we go out and we perform like I know we can, with the sharpness, the smiles and the togetherness, we can win it. I believe we have the right routine, the right cheer, the right dance that can win, and if we do our best we can bring home a state trophy." Reagan closed saying, "I think they are going to do great, and I'm going to be like a proud momma duck watching them doing their best on that stage."
Competition will be held on Thursday, January 12 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The competition schedule for the Woodville Eagle Cheer squad is as follows: 9:48 a.m. cheer and crowd leading; 11:44 a.m. fight song; and at 2:09 p.m. band dance. Each discipline will be performed separately and must not last longer than a single minute each.
Finalists will be named and those advancing will be performing in the finals Thursday evening and will perform a three-minute routine involving each discipline consecutively in succession that is timed and teams must not go over the allotted limit.