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Competitive Cheerleaders Flying High

More than 200,000 athletes take part in competitive cheerleading each year where high-flying stunts, powerful tumbling and tight synchronization yield winning scores in a growing network of competitions. What is All Star cheerleading? All Star cheerleading can be defined as an athletic activity that combines elements of gymnastic tumbling, dance, acrobatics and traditional cheerleading skills such as jumps and arm motions. Teams consist of up to 36 athletes performing exciting, professionally choreographed 2½ minute routines set to music. Six middle school aged athletes from Chattooga County travel to Cartersville, Georgia multiple times a week to be part of an elite All Star cheerleading squad. These students know that to win gold, everything has to be perfect, from their technique to their health to their coordination. The ultimate goal: leading their team to a Summit Championship. The D2 Summit, Varsity All Star’s Cheerleading Championship, is hosted in May in Tampa, Florida. Ten percent of the best teams from around the country will be invited to this innovative, competitive, prestigious and unforgettable end-of-the-year event
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These girls work out just about every day in the weeks leading up to the competitions, and some practices last three hours. Laney Barnes, Kaylie Bell, Gracie Canada, Camille Haggard, Tabitha Neal, and Carlie Sanford cheer for Stingray Allstars, which has three gyms in the state of Georgia. These girls train at the gym located in Cartersville, Georgia. Their team is known as Stingray Breeze, or Breeze Rays.

The Breeze Rays are a Junior Level 3 team. This defines the age group and type of tumbling and stunts that are permitted in their routine.

The squad started their competition schedule off in December at a two day competition in Sevierville, Tennessee called The Smokey Mountain Christmas Championship. Nerves were on edge as the squad prepared to compete with 9 other teams for a bid to the Summit. They rocked the mat with a final score of 95.35, a first place win, and a full paid bid to the D2 Summit in Tampa. Next on the schedule was a two day event called the Platinum Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The squad started out strong on day one, but a fall in the partner stunt sequence on day two put them in second place, less than one point behind first place. The team received an award for best dance of the competition.

Anticipation of what the remainder of the season will hold keeps this team working hard almost daily in the gym. In January the Breeze Rays will compete in Atlanta at Cheersport and again in February in Atlanta at the Cheersport Nationals. In March they will compete in the American Royale Competition in Atlanta. The team will finish up the scheduled competition season in Myrtle Beach at Battle at the Beach in April. Each competition will be part of the preparation of their minds, bodies, and routine for the D2 Summit in Tampa.

Greatness starts close to home. Without the coaching talents and time of Joey Canada and Tashia Knapp of Georgia Elite in Menlo, Georgia, these girls would not be where they are today. This gym and its coaches taught each cheerleader how hard work and perseverance can lead to the success they are now experiencing.  The early training these girls experienced in Menlo has contributed greatly to their journey to something as big as the Summit Championship.


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