Cheerleaders place high in competition

Published 7:16 am Friday, May 15, 2009

Hard work has paid off for a group of cheerleaders based out of Suffolk who recently placed high in a national competition in Virginia Beach. Two squads of cheerleaders from the Spirit All-Stars Gym took third place in the U.S./International competition sponsored by All-Star Cheerleading, Inc.

Both the senior age team (ages 12-18) and the junior age team (ages 10-14) placed third and will appear on ESPN this summer, likely in June according to Susan Piland, owner of Spirit All-Stars. The competition, held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center May 2 and 3, included 645 teams and over 11,000 cheerleaders.

Piland said the competition teams work out nearly year round.

“The senior age team practices twice a week, sometimes three, for two-and-a-half hours per night. The junior age team is the same,” Piland said. “Our gym is open every night, but we have five teams.”

Summer training starts in May and then by the end of July, team placements are made. Training includes tumble lessons, stunting, and a combination of stunting and jumps. New members are encouraged to come out for the team during this time.

“We encourage new members to come out to an open house on May 30,” Piland said. “You do not have to have experience to join the gym. We train the cheerleaders.”

The routines are ready by October when competition season begins.

“The senior-age team did the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City,” Piland said. “That was pretty intense.”

Several local cheerleaders were involved. From the Franklin/Southampton area from the junior age team were Samantha Jones and Ellie Wilkins. From the senior age team were Alexa Nichols, Haley Edwards, Taylor Davis, Taylor Peck, Lauren Wilkins, Amanda Beard and Carlee Smith.

The Spirit All-Stars also has a youth age team (ages 7 to 10), which includes Tianna Brubeck, Miah Wilson, Taylor Rountree, Caroline Bowers, Madison White, Alli Pasley, Tori Pasley, Emma McLelland and Ashten Hinkle from the Franklin/Southampton area.