For the first time in Cornerstone history, the Cougar competition cheerleading squad won the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders (FCC) national competition in the intermediate varsity division on Jan 5 in Orlando, Florida. The squad is only in its third year.
The Cougars headed into the national competition undefeated, with first place wins at the Atlanta Classic cheer competition, the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association (GICAA) state championship, the FCC Impact Kickoff competition, and the FCC Georgia state competition. After placing third and fourth, respectively, at nationals the past two years, the squad was determined to bring home the first place trophy this year.
“Nationals is a tough competition,” said head coach Holly Guice. “Our division had schools from Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. Our goal was to bring our very best and lay it all out there with no regrets.”
“Going in, we really had to focus on our stunts hitting at the exact time they are supposed to and also looking confident while doing it,” said freshman flyer Reese Wall.
The squad also headed to nationals with returning teammate and seventh-grader Ally Kakaty, who had been out of commission with a broken leg since September and had only just resumed practices on Dec 1.
The conclusion of the first day of competition on Jan 4 found the Cougars in the lead by 1.9 points, despite a falling stunt group and a teammate with a badly ripped ear. They used the judges’ comments on their score sheet to clean up their routine and make adjustments for the final day of competition.
“They had two great practices on Friday night and Saturday, where they were so energetic, confident, and strong,” said assistant coach Angela Eeles. “We gave the routine to the Lord and knew we could do this with His strength!”
The squad hit the mat on Jan 5 motivated to win and clinched the national title with a stellar routine. The judges commented that the routine had improved drastically from the first day of competition, further proving that hard work, prayer, and determination does pay off.
“We knew we could do this if the Lord would let us,” said Reese. “We were so close, and we refused to give up, get sloppy, and lose.”
While every coach’s dream is to win a national championship, Coach Guice said her favorite part of being a coach is having the opportunity to speak God’s Truth into the girls’ lives on a weekly basis.
“This year we had a ‘Sweet Theme’ throughout the season,” she said. “In addition to reading through the book of John and studying the life of Christ, we memorized Proverbs 16:24, ‘Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.’ Our entire routine had ‘sweet and sugary’ lyrics all throughout, from ‘Sugar, Sugar’ to ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ to ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.’ Our tradition was to take a spoonful of honey before every competition to go along with the beloved Mary Poppins song we had in the routine, too! It was an amazing season and definitely a SWEET VICTORY!”
Senior Lillian Cook also took home an award for being named a FCC Scholar Cheerleader for her high GPA as a senior competitive cheerleader.
Squad members: Courtney Carmichael, Lillian Cook, Sofia Duncan, Kaelyn Eeles, Emily Elrod, Anna Falkins, Isabel Guice, Ally Kakaty, Kinslee Lebhaft, Lilli Pascoe, Carson Pitzer, Katie Richardson, Avery Wall, Reese Wall, Laney Wetter.
Choreographer: Hannah LaRue Clayton.