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Cheerleaders earn "E" for effort

Champions are not always measured by enormous trophies or fancy titles.

Collerville, Tenn. High School won the National Championship at the National High School Cheerleading Championships held this past weekend in Orlando, Fla.,

But the final outcome did not matter. This group of Glenwood athletes are champions in the eyes to those who count the most – themselves.



Two days before jetting to Disney World, cheerleaders Courtney McCallum and Andrea Vincent were injured and couldn’t compete.

That forced coaches Kim Richardson and Jody Jordan to make last-minute changes and position switches to a routine that took 10 months to develop.



To the group’s credit, they went on and gave it their best shot, using two alternates to fill the injured members’ spots.

Unfortunately, the judges were not impressed.

Glenwood, the state 4A champions, failed to advance out of the preliminary round in the all-girl, medium varsity division.

But nothing can remove the pride each girl developed for making the effort.

It would have been very easy, because of the injuries, for the squad to opt out and enjoy a four-day vacation in the Florida sun with no worries of competition.

But quitting was never an option.

And like the champions they are, the revamped Demon squad performed.

The Glenwood squad never learned their score from the preliminary round of 60 squads. Universal Cheerleaders Association, the organization that administers the annual event, only releases the team scores to the squad’s coaches.

When the list of squads that advanced to the semifinals was announced, all the Demons knew was they were not included.

Were the cheerleaders down? Yes. Were they disappointed? No.

After all, how many cheer squads, especially from a town the size of Glenwood Springs, can claim they are not only a state champion, but one of the 60-best teams in North America?

The accomplishment erased three straight years of advancing from the preliminary round at state competition, only to be thwarted in the finals.

This season, Glenwood qualified for the national competition by taking third-place finish at UCA’s Colorado regional competition at Englewood High School in November.

Then, in December, at the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Spirit Championships, the 2002-03 cheerleaders made history. They were the first Demon squad to win the Class 4A state championship.

It was third time, however, the Demons earned a berth to Orlando in as many years. In 2001 the Demons failed to advance. Last year, Glenwood had to withdraw due to extensive injuries.

Those misses served as a rallying point for this year’s team.

In the weeks following the regional competition, the cheerleaders and coaches, upped their practice schedule from four to six days a week.

It was common throughout the winter to see the cheerleaders practicing at 6 a.m. the morning after cheering at a high school football, volleyball or basketball game.

“The success of this year’s squad is directly related to their dedication, commitment and teamwork,” Richardson said. “They treat each other and their coaches with respect and they believe in their team. This group of girls has worked harder than any other we’ve coached.”

In Richardson’s case, that’s been 12 years. The team’s other coaches, Lynn Goluba, Reese Lynn and Jordan have been with the program for six years. Goluba remained in Glenwood with her new baby.

Along with the cheerleader’s dedication, Richardson credited choreographer Teresa Sobczyk for the team’s success.

The Demons were one of four Colorado teams to earn invitations to the all-girl, medium varsity level national competition. Medium sized squads consist of 14-20 members.

Eaglecrest High School, a Class 5A school from the Denver suburb of Centennial, was the only Colorado high school to reach the finals. They finished in ninth place in Orlando.

Richardson said that preparing for nationals “is not that different” than preparing for other competitions. “The only real difference is fundraising.”

Teams who qualify for nationals get no financial support from UCA.

When Glenwood got the bid, the squad asked the community for help, and earned money for their trip with spaghetti dinners, cake raffles, and door-to-doorsales.

“There was a great effort spearheaded by the parents to raise funds for the squad’s travel costs,” explained Richardson. “We have great parents and the support from the community has been wonderful. We’re very thankful to have everyone behind us and wishing us good luck.”

And with a little good luck health-wise, the Demons are already planning to return next year.

With the exception of seniors Ali Tonozzi and Michelle Whiddon, the remaining squad members are underclassmen.


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