Competitive Cheer Team has ‘amazing’ tumbling skills on deck

Lake Orion High School Varsity Competitive Cheerleading Coach Nancy DeAvila expects her team will heat things up in competition, beginning Jan. 17.
“It’s exciting because their tumbling skills are probably the best of any team we’ve had,” she said. “We have a young team, experience-wise, and they have a lot of preparation to do, but I’m very excited.”
The team began practicing on Nov. 10, and begin their 2004 competition season about two weeks later than they have in the past. The Dragons this year are the largest competitive cheer team in school history, according to DeAvila, with 30 members.
Senior co-captains for the 2004 Dragons are Andrea Horton, Danielle Welch, Damora Shamley and Nici Darnall. Other senior squad members are: Amber Loney, Amber Nichols, Ashley Perkey, Melissa Oakes and Melissa English.
Juniors are: Calli Long, Amy Gregory, Jessyca Singleton, Jessica Sutton, Amy Pfister, Brooke Reichert, Tara Miracle, Erica Remstad, Valerie Moua, Meagan Burkeen and Rachel Suspeck.
Sophomores on the team are: Ashley Phifer, Nicole Oakes, Didi Chmielewski and Danielle Elsey. Freshmen are: Kendall Stout, Lauren Mannor, Stephanie Ferguson, Jessica Stefko, Hilary Copeland and Jinelle Hudson.
Last season Lake Orion won the regional competition and finished fifth at the state finals. DeAvila’s goals for 2004 are for the team to win their ninth consecutive regional title and move up in the state ranking.
“Their tumbling is just amazing,” she said. “Our confidence level is high. I don’t feel like a brand new coach anymore.”
DeAvila is going into her second year as varsity coach, after many years as an assistant at LOHS. She said she likes the way the seniors on this year’s team are taking the freshmen “under their wing.”
“We’ve never had so many young freshmen on varsity, and I was concerned about that,” said DeAvila. “But the youth is reenergizing the rest of the team.”
The Dragons will focus their skills on acquiring a back tuck in the second round of their state competition performance, critical for a good placing, according to DeAvila.
“In Class A competitive cheer your focus is your tumbling skills,” she said. “We need a standing back tuck…In order to be competitive at the state level, you have to have that skill.”
The team has previously performed the move in their stunt round but the not the second round, which is what they plan to attempt this season.
“One of our team goals is no performance anxiety,” DeAvila said. “Because with young kids, some of them have never competed before.”
Lake Orion’s schedule has some new additions this season, including the Panther Classic at DeWitt High School on Feb. 14. The team will have a competition every weekend without a break from Jan. 17-Feb. 21.
“We compete at leagues and the Lake Orion Invitational, and we see our OAA competitors most of the season wherever we go,” said DeAvila. “We will get to see more west side (of the state) teams at the Panther Classic, which helps us prepare better for the state finals.
“We’re a very strong team in the state finals first round, and we hope to continue with that,” she said.