The King’s Academy – Cheerleading Champions February 6, 2011Posted by Fritz in Yachts and other things that float.
Tags: back 2 back, Florida State Cheerleading Champions, The King's Academy, TKA
The King’s Academy Competitive Cheerleading Team traveled to Kissimmee, Florida on Friday to compete in the 2011 Florida State Finals. Just like last year the team qualified the week prior and now was poised to defend the title they had won against 57 other teams across the state. The difference was this year the competition had stepped up their game and I was about to learn a valuable life lesson.
King’s placed a disappointing third in the regional qualifier and would surely face other stronger teams on the road to the finals. A change by the Florida High School Athletic Association split the cheer divisions into more equitable groups for this year’s competition reducing the number of schools in each division but not the quality level.
The competition began at 8am Friday morning. Seven divisions of various size making up 95 teams were scheduled to compete. Our division was scheduled to begin just after noon and by the unlucky draw of the cards, we drew the first slot to lead off our division.
The girls had a good routine, no drops but were a bit shaky and certainly not as sharp as they have been before. Coach Jenn Allen decided to take the girls back to the hotel immediately after their performance and not watch the competition’s performances live. It took nearly 3 hours for all 15 schools to complete the semi’s. The qualifiers for the finals would be announced shortly after the group finished but the finals wouldn’t start until almost 7pm. Only four teams would move on.
We stayed to watch the entire group and knew we were not the best at this point. When the results were finally announced they began with the top ten in reverse order. King’s was not called in the first six so I knew we had made the finals. What I wasn’t prepared for was hearing our team called in 4th place. It was a sobering jolt to realize our girls were not the dominating force they were last year when they went into the finals in first.
We left the arena to join the team and other parents back at the hotel. The coaches had assembled the girls to watch the videos of the three teams who were ahead of us. Watching the girls watch the competition was fascinating. Some got mad, some got sad. Some were intimidated and others were not fazed at all. Head Coach Jenn Allen and Assistant Coach Christina Pike started the pep talk. They were brutally honest and called out our mistakes while highlighting the competition’s successes. As difficult as it was to hear Coach Jenn’s sobering critique she always let the girls know they were better than the performance they had just completed. They had the skills and the talent to beat those other teams…they just had to want to.
Then the team’s school sponsor spoke. Tina Tutwiler is an administrator at King’s who supports the team. She spoke briefly but eloquently reminding the girls they are ultimately performing by and for the grace of God and they should release their fears to him and perform with a joyous heart.
Speaking last was Christina’s husband Tim Pike. Tim is a West Palm Beach police officer who cheered in high school and in college at Ohio State. Jenn and Christina have created a dynamic program that succeeds because of each other’s strengths. They are the tacticians. Driving home the skills and the discipline. Tim provides the fire. He instills inspiration. He pushes and challenges and mocks… and the girls love it. Tim reminded the girls they were the defending state champions. They were the best. The other teams were good but King’s is better. If they did their best they would be champions.
I wish I had heard such inspiring words when I was a kid. I left the room fired up and as my daughter would tell me on the ride home Saturday, “After the speeches, there was no way we were going back to school on Monday without first place”.
We drew the third spot in the finals. The first team up was Stranahan High. A school who beat us at Regionals and whose performance, when done right, is tough to beat. They were 3.45 points ahead after the semi’s. Stranahan’s strength is their strength. They launch their flyers higher than any other team but it all came down to execution. While they didn’t drop any stunts their performance was just a little bit flat or so we hoped. Next was The Villages. They were in the lead after the semi’s—7.5 points ahead of us. They dropped a stunt early and suddenly there was a crack in the door. We went next. Our family and friend’s support was out in force…at least 75 strong. We over-filled the space in front of the stage and were about to show the crowd how they do it at The King’s Academy. Our girls hit the stage and we let the world know it. Our first set of stunts were perfect. The girls were pumped and led into the cheer section firing on all cylinders. They had us and the arena rocking. The second round of stunts were perfect again and as the flyers dismounted into the final dance routine you could see it in their faces…just like last year. But one team was left—Trinity Catholic. They were third after semi’s, just .250 ahead if us. They too dropped a stunt and were not as clean as before. The door was wide open.
With our finals now complete we had to wait for the other division’s finals to finish before the results would be announced. It was an excruciating 45 minutes and of course our division was the last called to assemble on stage for the trophy presentation.
I caught myself rehearsing a consolation speech to my daughter in my head just before they began the announcements. I stopped the thought in mid sentence as the announcer pronounced the fourth place team, “Trinity Catholic High School”. I exhaled loudly, my heart was racing.
“In third place, The Villages High School”. I stood paralyzed, time ground to a stand still. It was us against Stranahan… Just as The Villages cleared center stage from receiving their medals the announcer came on, “In second place and runner-up, Stranahan High School!”
The King’s Academy had just won their second straight Florida State Championship in the large non-tumbling division. Once again it was sheer madness on stage and in the pits. Our girls had gutted out the performance of a lifetime to comeback from fourth place and win back-to-back state championships.
I got to witness the most amazing performance not only by our girls but by the families, friends, administrators and coaches. It takes it all to become a champion. This life lesson will serve these girls well and I imagine everyone who got to share this experience.
Now it’s on to Nationals next weekend and then preparing for next year’s States.
Can we Expecta Trifecta?