Glenwood Valley cheer gym a place where all can be part of the team
Post Independent correspondent
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Glenwood Valley Athletics Junior Explosion cheerleading team will have a showcase of its D2 Summit Nationals competition routine, along with a bake sale and silent auction, 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 5 at Glenwood Springs High School.
Glenwood Valley Athletics All Star Cheerleading is providing everyone from toddlers to teens, to those just looking to be included, with an opportunity to show some spirit.
“I didn’t really know what cheerleading was when I started but I right away just loved it,” said Destiny Solorio, a member of the GVA All Stars. “GVA has become my second home.”
GVA is a cheer and dance program that provides all ages of kids with coaching for different levels of cheerleading. All-star programs are not associated with schools. Christine Dingman, the owner and head coach, started GVA in 2013.
“I started coaching cheerleading when I was 22 and I loved it,” Dingman said. “It’s always been my passion and I love to work with kids.”
Since opening, the number of cheerleaders in the Elite Competitor Program has grown from 12 to 62 kids. That doesn’t include toddlers or other tumbling classes.
“The kids bring me just as much joy as I hope to bring them,” Dingman said. “There’s not a day that I have to peel myself off the couch because I think, ‘Yes, I get to go coach.’ ”
This year, the organization also began offering a program for children with special needs to participate on a cheerleading team.
“I have two handicapped brothers, and I just thought how neat it would be to broaden their horizon and give them more things to do,” Dingman said. “At first, they didn’t want to do it, and now they can’t stop. They’re ready for next season and to go to competition.”
Dingman added that, from her observation, the special needs program has created a positive impact on the cheerleaders on other teams at GVA.
“They’ve been brought into a family where they can feel loved and supported,” Dingman said. “It’s amazing to see all of our kids helping out the team and they all support them as they are competing.”
At the beginning of March, the GVA Junior Explosion team attended the Cheer Sport Competition in Loveland, where they won a bid to the Varsity All Star National Competition.
“We were really surprised that we got it,” said Junior Explosion cheerleader Abbie Hughes.
“Some people were even crying because it’s like a dream to go to D2 Summit,” Karely Contreras said.
After trying for the last five years for the bid, the team placed sixth out of the 52 teams at the Loveland competition, receiving a bid.
“You have to be top of the top at a competition for a D2 Summit bid, which is really tough to do,” Dingman said. “It’s the most sought out prestigious bid that all-star cheerleaders go for.”
The team will travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to compete in the Junior Level 1 Medium Division of the national competition. Squad member Kailee Basinger said GVA Junior Explosion is the Western Slope’s first team to compete in the event.
The team will be in Disney World for four days. They will compete on May 11 with hopes of qualifying for finals that take place on the May 13.
“I have so much faith in my team,” Solorio said. “I think that when we get there we’ll come together as one and hit our routine and just have a lot of fun.”
The team has also been hard at work raising the $1,000 that each cheerleader needs to go to nationals. The cheerleaders and their parents have sold hot dogs and baked goods at local baseball games and valley events such as the Rifle Animal Shelter “Adopt a Dog” day.
GVA will have a showcase of its competition routine, along with a bake sale and silent auction, at Glenwood Springs High School from 1-3 p.m. today. The team invites the community to come, show support and send them off to the D2 Summit Nationals Competition.
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