Cheerleaders on Cloud 9 with trio of titles
West Nassau High School varsity cheerleaders are on Cloud 9.
“It still doesn’t feel real yet. It doesn’t, like, sink in that we’ve won three titles and that we’ve achieved all the things that we’ve achieved this year,” said junior Haleigh Fouraker.
The 18-member team won the national Universal Cheerleaders Association’s Medium Varsity Non-Tumbling category Feb. 10 after advancing straight to the finals. The team also performed in the World School Cheerleading Championship Feb. 10 to win the world title. The cheerleaders also won the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A Medium Division Non-Tumbling championship Jan. 31.
The accolades continued after the competition as the team was honored during the Nassau County School Board meeting Thursday, receiving framed certificates as part of the “Superintendent’s Spotlight” segment.
Since 2011, the West Nassau High School Varsity Cheerleading Team has earned eight state championships, two national titles and one world title.
The team consists of four seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen. They stepped up to the challenge of flying higher this year.
“We all wanted to do it,” they said in unison.
They were determined to win and competed three times in two days for the national and world titles. It was West Nassau’s first world competition.
“We honestly just wanted to see what would happen if we tried it, because we never thought that we’d compete at it, because we only ever did state and nationals,” said senior Haley Love. “And then one day we were like, ‘Why don’t we do world?” Like, let’s just do it. Let’s just see what happens, you know, and then we conquered.”
This gives the team three titles in one competition year.
“There’s actually no words to describe it,” senior Haley Horton said. “It’s so crazy. It all feels like a blur. And it’s amazing that we did that.”
In the four years that Coach Samantha Beazley has guided the girls, they have won four state championships, two national and one world championship.
“I honestly didn’t really think about it to be honest,” she said. “I don’t really count the medals or the championships or the titles or anything like that. What matters to me is who comes back as far as returners or who comes back next year or alumni, like, or who still comes around ... the ones that are still involved and giving back to the program. I feel like that’s what means the most to me.”
She added that each team member must have his or her heart in the sport to achieve success. The team is built through a rigorous tryout process, with about half of the participants not making the team. Beazley’s goal is to get each team member on a level playing field and trained to know the proper techniques by the time competitions begin.
“What I try to tell people, especially at tryouts is it doesn’t matter where you start, because as long as we all finish on the same level, that’s the most important thing,” the coach said. “Because it’s easy for them to come in and feel intimidated, because you do have amazing kids here that have worked hard and have progressed, you know, from years previous. But as long as we all finish at the same level, it doesn’t matter where you start.”
Sophomore Presley Ellis said of the cheerleading experience, “We don’t have to do this – we get to do this.”
Calee Edwards performed all weekend on a severely sprained ankle. She expressed the importance of having heart.
“With that comes the dedication,” the senior said. “Because people really don’t understand the hours and the time we put into it. And really, that alone takes a lot of heart to, you know, want to come in here every day and push yourself to be better. Because when you make yourself better, it benefits the whole team, so I really just think it all starts with heart. And our coach always says it takes loving each other. Because really, like, any little bit of tension or anything can, like, you know, prevent you from being successful. But I really think we’ve accomplished that this year, loving each other and being a family.”
The competitive season begins in November. The cheerleaders spend 11 months each year training and practicing. In the spring, they practice two days per week in 90-minute intervals. The summer consists of conditioning twice a week at 90-minute intervals and attending cheerleading camp.
In the fall, the team practices three days per week and also cheers for the Warrior football team on Friday nights.
As competition season nears, the team performs two competition run-throughs on two Saturdays leading up to the performance dates. They also perfect their techniques within the routine.
The cheerleaders delivered a higher skill level than other competitors, according to Beazley.
“Even for, like, nationals, you know, there was no one else in our division that had the things that we had, so I think that really set us apart. I think that’s one of the reasons why we were so successful.”
The team incorporated spins and inversions with pirouettes at the top tier and included other super elite skills such as 360-degree spins while switching their feet during the execution.
With that perfection, the teammates also soar academically with a collective 3.616 GPA.
Sophomore Kobe Stiles enjoys lending support to the girls.
“It’s just fun,” he said.
His GPA has improved since joining the team. He considers cheerleading on par with any other team sport. He and CJ Baughman are the two males on the team.
“They don’t realize the amount of work that we actually put into it,” Stiles added.
The cheerleaders receive support from the football team.
“We actually did a conditioning session with the football team over the summer and that was fun, you know, because we did some things that the football team does to condition and they did some of the things that we did, and it was really kind of fun to get another level of respect for each other,” Beazley said.
The football players gave them support as spectators.
“Whenever comp season started, the football team players actually came in and they all came in, supported us and watched us,” Beazley said.