Windsor cheerleaders fall short

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anna DeMatteo holds the letter “I” in WINDSOR during the crowd-cheer portion of Windsor’s three-minute routine during the state competition on Saturday. -- ANDREW FAISON/TIDEWATER NEWS


RICHMOND—For Windsor senior cheerleader Tabitha Butler, it takes months of devotion followed by three minutes of perfection in hopes of bringing home the gold.

Butler was part of the Lady Dukes squad, which fell 6.5 points short of advancing to the finals during the Group A State Competition at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Saturday. The squad placed eighth out of the 12 teams.

“Being able to make it all the way to state competition is always the ultimate goal,” said Dawn Carroll, who is in her 17th year coaching the Windsor squad. “We have to simply set our sights on advancing through each competition of our season.”

Since July 30, the Dukes have practiced Monday through Saturday with football games on Friday nights.

Carroll feels that because the cheerleaders bonded as a family, they showcased some skills this year that she hadn’t seen before.

“Our motto this year has been that we are a family and we need to protect each member of this family because none of what we do can be done without each and every member of our squad,” she said.

Carroll notes that her team is far more than a competition cheer squad.

“Our present squad has to juggle sideline cheerleading to support our football team, boys basketball team and girls basketball team, and compete as a competition squad all while fulfilling any community requests for appearances,” she said.

Cheerleading often takes senior Holly Watson away from her friends.

“It’s something I’m okay with because I have so many friends in cheering,” Watson said. “Even if I had a bad day in school, going to practice would always make my day better.”

Senior Lyndsey Paschal, who has cheered since she was in the fourth grade, said making it to the state competition meant the world to her.

“I wanted to finish my cheerleading career on a good note,” Paschal said. “The memories and bonds will carry on with me for the rest of my life.”

Carroll stresses to her squads that they don’t have to be best friends off the mat, but while together they are expected to do whatever it takes to look out for each other.

Watson read a quote at practice that said, “snowflakes are all different, but look what they can do when they come together.”

“To be a cheerleader, you have to be that snowflake,” she said.

“You have to come together with others and make it snow.”