With the addition of competitive cheerleading to Panther sport activities last fall a new program with a new coach was launched. First year coach Shauna DeBlieck, who also serves the Erie School District as the elementary nurse, made a splash with the program last summer as the squad captured a team trophy at a at a NCA (National Cheerleaders Assoc.) camp.
The win qualified the group to attend and participate in the pre-game activities at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 2nd.
Since returning the squad has competed at some local competitions in the past few months and on Saturday the team will compete in their first ever IHSA Sectional at Belvidere (North) High School. Competing in the small school division with 14 other squads, the Panthers hope to finish in the top five teams to qualify for the state finals in Springfield in February.
Coach DeBlieck says the group has improved greatly since last fall as they approach Saturday’s competition. “The routine we started with in October is boring compared to where they are now. We have added and replaced stunts to increase the difficulty level. Just last week I said “Let’s see if both flyers can do a full down” and after a couple tries they both nailed it. Not only has their skill level improved, but their confidence in what they are capable of has also!”
The squad will unveil their routine at tonight’s home boys’ basketball game
The coach says the goal for Saturday is to not hold back. “They need to give everything they have for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. They will give all their energy and personality into the routine and do their best to hit every stunt.”
The members of the squad are: Carin Bowser, Aaliyah Bailey, Kayleigh Neill, Madison Hill, Lily Willett, Neveah McElhiney, Dena Cox, Kate McConnell, Cassie Fleener, Charleigh Misfeldt and Brianna Goodhart.
“They have come so far!” said DeBlieck. “They are perfecting little things that only I notice, but the rest of the routine is looking great!”