Glenwood High cheerleaders win state title |

Glenwood High cheerleaders win state title

Continuing a proud tradition, Glenwood Springs High School’s cheerleading squad took first place in the state championship for 4A on Saturday night, with 35 teams competing.

“We had an amazing routine and the girls rocked it,” said coach Kate Hatch.

“They came together as a team, they knew what they wanted, and they went for it,” agreed coach coach Jody Jordan.

The team scored 90.225 points out of 100 with their 2 1/2 minute routine. They received particularly high marks on their cheer, with two of four judges awarding a perfect score.

The school has taken the top title four times in 24 years of competition, most recently in 2004, and has been to the playoffs at least 14 times, including a second place finish in 2007.

It’s an impressive legacy for a small, Western Slope school.

“It’s pretty amazing that we’ve been able to make finals as often as we do,” said Hatch. “Denver is full of cheerleading gyms.

“We don’t have any of that here. Everything these girls learn is coming from the coaches and cheer camps that we send these girls to.”

Jordan credits the team’s success on a strong tradition.

“The next year’s girls step it up,” she said. “This year, the key was to be super sharp and hit all our stunts. They had to be perfect in order to win. It was really cool to hear a lot of people in the cheerleading industry say, ‘You guys had it.’”

Jordan also had a person stake in this year’s team. Her daughter Natasha is one of four seniors, along with Maria Garcia, Nayeli Perez and Ashley Stephens, competing this year.

“It’s a pretty good feeling as a mom to be the coach of a senior who wins state,” she said.

For Natasha, it was a chance to prove herself in a family with an impressive legacy even beyond her mother’s coaching record. Her oldest brother took state in both mock trial and speech and her other brother was part of the 2008 state football championship team.

“There’s a big competition in the family,” she said. “It’s also really rewarding coming from a Western Slope team where we have to work on it ourselves and not have everyone give it all to us.”

It took a tremendous amount of work to get there. In addition to cheering for home games in football, volleyball and basketball, the girls attend several other competitions and practice all the time.

“These girls have practicing about 15 hours a week since the last week of October,” said Jordan. “They work out all summer. They’re like weightlifters out there — putting girls that way 100 pounds or more up in the air. They’re definitely athletes.”

Added Hatch: “You continually train. You push through the bumps and the bruises and the pain, and you never give up.”

It teaches lessons beyond just cheer, Hatch said, like striving for success and taking pride in themselves and their community.

“We really want our program to be a lifelong learning program,” she said.

“It’s a sport that teaches me responsibility and maturity, how to be a part of a team, and be a better person as whole,” Natasha agreed. “I really like being part of a team. You really do need everybody to become a state champion. We all had the drive to go out and give it all on the mat and leave it there.”

The team will compete in the non-tumbling category of nationals in February, although Hatch, who is pregnant with twins, will be unable to join.

Instead, Lynn Goluba, who coached with Jordan and Kim Richardson for years, will step in to help.

Fundraising efforts will help to cover the cost of around $1,000 per girl, and donations are always appreciated.

After that, the girls will have a month off before tryouts for next year start up in April.

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