Group garners cheers for latest championship
When the Charleroi Competition Cheerleaders took the title of state champions last month at the Pennsylvania Cheerleading and Dance State Competition, it was by no means new ground the for the storied squad.
The first-place finish at the Elite Cheer event held at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh was just the latest victory for the team coached by Jaime Carson and Darlene DeiCas.
Last year, the Charleroi team finished third among 80 teams at the national tournament in Disney World. They will compete at Feb. 9-10 at nationals in Ohio.
The team won national titles at Disney World in 2009 and Hershey Park in 2006 and 2007. They have won multiple state competitions.
The competition team is open to all high school girls. They exclusively cheer at competitions.
The season starts each year in August at Kennywood, which usually draws 50 teams. The Charleroi team took first place in the medium varsity division this year.
The season stretches through February when the nationals are held, this year at Kalahari Resorts in Ohio.
The Charleroi team has been competing for about 10 years.
“We found there were girls from Charleroi that wanted to compete but did not want to cheer at games, so we made a separate team,” Carson explained.
The team comprises 16 girls who earn their spot on the team through tryouts in April.
For the past eight years, the team has held a competition at the high school in November to fund its national trips.
Carson started coaching the high school varsity team at 19, after cheering there previously. This past year, she gave up the varsity job to concentrate on the competition team.
The girls must undergo extensive conditioning.
“We do conditioning at every practice,” Carson said. “The amount of dance and cheer is minimal as compared to tumbling and stunting and jumping. The dance may be 15 seconds of the 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and the rest is tumbling and stunts and pyramids.”
The events are very strenuous. Injuries are common.
“We have not had one competition with the same 16 girls,” Carson said. “We're always bringing an alternate or someone on the sideline.
“Cheerleading is very underestimated, and Charleroi has a great tradition. I love the girls, and they're very deserving of the honors they get.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.