By DENISE FEDOROW Correspondent
---- — NAPPANEE — Two local cheer squads are competing in state contests today at Southport High School in Indianapolis and members of each squad credit hard work, determination and a tight-knit squad for getting them there.
In Nappanee’s “Panther Country” the sole senior cheerleader on the squad, captain Ashley Stump, took time out from practice to share that on a scale of one to 10 her confidence level was “Ten. We’ve endured so much with this team; we’ve been through a lot. It’s been a great experience going to state the last three years but it means something more as this is the last time for me so we’re going to win.”
Stump said her freshman and sophomore years NorthWood ranked second place and last year due to a scoring glitch they finished “somewhere in the top five.”
The juniors on the squad are also excited. Kristin Norville said, “It means a lot. I feel like the team is closer than every this year.”
Described by her coach as “the competitive one,” Maddie Angle said she’s been on different teams during her high school career but feels there is something special about this one — something that will mean a win. “I’ve been real competitive all my life and I feel this is something really achievable,” she said.
But that confidence is not restricted to the upperclassmen. Freshman cheerleader Hannah Simon also feels pretty good about the squad’s chances. “It’s so exciting. It’s hard to fathom how close we are and I feel we can win. Everything we’ve worked hard on for four months — all that hard work is paying off and it will be great for our senior,” she said.
The Panther squad is coached by head coach Lisa Norville and assistant coach Ashlea Romano. Coach Norville agreed that the squad “is family. I can’t say enough about them. They are the hardest working, most dedicated girls in all my years of coaching. Heart. That’s how I’d describe them — they have heart.”
The coach said the squad members have been plagued with illness and injury, people coming and going and having to change their routines as many as three times before taking the floor — once just five minutes before going on to compete.
“And every time they come off the floor they make me cry. They’re just amazing. There’s a lot of good leadership and they love what they do,” she said.
The cheerleaders and the coaches are appreciative of all the community’s support, including their families. Coach Norville said the girl’s moms are always surprising them with little gifts and treats.
The NorthWood team will compete in Class C at 4 p.m.
In Falcon Country, Fairfield coaches Kassidy Crimmins and Corinda Thrapp were also perfecting stunts with their squad in preparation for the state competition. Fairfield competes in Class C competition at 4:24 p.m. Crimmins said the squad didn’t compete last year but did go to state the year before.
Also in Class C, (previously Class 3) like NorthWood, coach Crimmins praised the hard work and dedication of her cheerleaders.
“It’s nice to see all their hard work pay off. The girls sacrifice some of their summer to compete in fair competitions and then the school year gets busy preparing for regional,” she said.
The Falcons have six seniors on their squad and while they have no captain, the girls designated Sidney Fisher their spokesperson. “It’s really exciting,” she said. “The team is so close and we’ve practiced so hard, so to be able to take this team to state is really exciting and it’s our biggest goal.”
When asked about their freshman members and the legacy they’ll be leaving behind, all the seniors became animated.
“This is the first year a lot of them have competed and they really stepped up and surprised us,” Fisher said.
Alejandra Campos said she was “confident” of the legacy they’ll be leaving behind when they graduate. “This has been the best school year and we hope it continues.”
The seniors said all the teams at Fairfield have really stepped up this year. As for the cheer squad Fisher said, “Everyone is close—on an off the field.”
Kassidy has been the Fairfield coach for two years and is also hopeful for the future. “These (senior) girls have been great leaders and role models. They’ve been helping to teach, which is sometimes easier to take from your peers and I hope some of that rubs off on the younger girls and that continues.”