It’s off to Dallas for the Whitman-Hanson Regional High cheerleaders.
The team will head for the Lone Star State Friday morning, where it will compete in the NCA Senior & Junior High School National Championship, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The two-day tournament, which spans from Saturday to Sunday, boasts many of the top teams from across the country.
Last winter, the Panthers, in their third straight trip to the tournament, captured the Small Advanced High School division.
W-H head coach Tanisha King, who is in her sixth year at the helm of the program, said the NCA is one of the most prestigious competitions in the country based on the fact that teams must score a certain average at the state-level to even be invited.
King added that embarking on such a journey does draw them closer together.
“It definitely is a team bonding trip,” King said. “Whenever we do go there I do try to do certain things outside of our competition. In years past we’ve gone to the aquarium, the zoo, last year we took a tour of the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, so we get to do things as a team we obviously wouldn’t be able to do here in Massachusetts, so it’s nice to do that.
So far this year, the cheerleaders – led by junior captain Anna Franklin – have captured a league title, regional crown and state title all during the fall. King said she’s seen an immense amount of growth from her team, which boasts just one senior after graduating four off last year’s roster, as the season’s worn on.
“I’ve seen a lot of people pick up the slack that I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to be able to,” King explained. “Even just younger girls stepping up and being role models and leaders for the team and filling the shoes of the four girls that left. They accepted that challenge and I think that showed in our state routine and the level on confidence and the level of difficulty that we had. They didn’t let anything hold them back.”
While the cheerleaders have endured great success, considerable time and effort has gone into that, and even more is needed before heading to Dallas, where they’re forced to alter their entire routine. The NCA consists of a minute-long cheer, while stunting, tumbling and moving, where back in Massachusetts the girls’ whole routine is performed to music.
“It could be a stamina issue, it’s definitely training your body differently,” King said. “You have just over six weeks to do that with them, so it’s a lot of different training that goes on in those six weeks getting them ready.”
Last winter, W-H followed up its national championship winning trip to the NCA with a league title, regional title, state title and New England tile. But first thing is first, it had to get the job done in Dallas.
“They have one agenda on their minds,” King said. “It’s not like a regular trip where we’re going down there, they’re going down there with the intentions on hitting their routine and hopefully becoming a champion again.”