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Bulldog Cheerleaders a Force to be Reckoned with: Small Squad of nine Mauls its way up to Nationals

The Sheffield cheerleading team continues to carve out its place in the sport and build its legacy. The Sheffield High School Varsity Cheerleading team, led by head coach Emily Stewart, placed 11th in the nation at the 2019 National High School Cheerleading Championship during Feb. 8-10 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Stewart said that this is a “ginormous” achievement, explaining that her team was facing 26 other teams in its division, all who were competing with as many as 23 people. The Sheffield squad competed in the Small Coed Game Day division. They were required to perform a three-minute routine where they presented a band chant, sideline cheer, school cheer and fight song. Sheffield’s 2017 cheerleading team placed first in national competition -its first time ever competing at nationals in the sport. Stewart explained that this year, the varsity cheer team moved up and competed in a bigger, harder division. The team was only bested by Opp High School, which is a 3A school and had a larger squad. The cheerleading coach said that the team’s success on the state and national level was the culmination of a full year’s worth of preparation and determination. “As a coach, you couldn’t ask more,” Stewart said. “These kids set a goal to go to nationals and they had the work ethic to do it.” Stewart explained that a few of the girls on the team also compete on the Sheffield girls team, which made scheduling practices a juggle. “There were days when we we’d have morning practices at 6:15 a.m. and as late as 7:45 p.m.,” Stewart said. “They weren’t excited at the time, but they never
complained.” The Sheffield cheerleaders were able to travel to Orlando to compete through a community-backed fundraising effort, including support from the Sheffield City Council. “Our school administrators and school board have provided phenomenal support and we could not have gone without them,” Stewart said. “This was an overall community effort.” The cheer coach said that the entire student body has backed the team as well and even assembled to watch the team compete at nations via live video stream while at school. “They wanted to do something for themselves,” Stewart said. “They’re always in the stands and sidelines supporting others, but they decided that they wanted a championship.” For next season, Stewart says that her teamhas already resolved that they are going to earn a state championship. She also said they anticipate going back to nationals and placing higher than this year. Stewart said that the school’s recent successes in cheerleading have helped to promote the program. With tryouts recently conducted, the coach said they’ve already doubled their numbers. “We’re going to continue to build successful teams and continue winning,” Stewart said.