Competitive cheerleading might not receive the national attention other sports do, but across the United States, many people follow this activity closely. For this reason, cheerleading enthusiasts around the country were excited to learn that the results of Universal Cheerleading Academy’s national championship were decided this weekend: for the 15th time in their program’s history, the title went to Greenup County High School in Kentucky, where cheerleading was only recently declared a sport.
On Monday, February 9, it was announced that the 2015 team had placed first in the prominent competitive cheerleading event. The championship ended yet another fantastic season for cheerleading coach Candy Berry, who has been directing Greenup County’s competitive cheerleading efforts for 38 years. But while this was the program’s 15th victory at the event, it was especially meaningful for the entire team: none of the current members had previously won a national championship, which gives them the right to wear the famed white championship jackets. Moreover, Kentucky only classified competitive cheerleading as a sport three years ago. In that period, Greenup period has never lost a state competition, winning by a 24-point margin in the 16th Region competition. They then earned the state title with a seven-point lead, which one Orlando newspaper, the Daily Independent, called a “virtual blowout”.
Greenup County’s success comes as the result of plenty of hard work: the team practices six or even seven days a week for several hours at a time. Berry is well-known for her flawless routines, and the team relies on regular tumbling classes and frequent tumbling instructions to make them perfect. While challenging, team members say that this constant training has helped them form strong bonds, making them almost like a second family.
Kentucky cheerleading squads reportedly made up a significant part of the national competition: 52 groups in both the high school and middle school categories hailed from the Bluegrass State. Competition at this event is always tight: Berry reported that Greenup County has won and lost titles in the past by as little as .1 and .4%. Find more on this topic here.