UPDATE February 17: Coronado’s Competition Cheer team placed 3rd in the JAMZ National Championship. Way to go girls!
Coronado High School’s Competition Cheer Team at the JAMZ School and Youth State Championship on February 4th when they won first place, advancing them to the national championship. (Courtesy of Shella Sattler)On February 4, 2017 Coronado High School’s competition cheerleaders competed in the JAMZ School and Youth State Championship at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. Competing against nine other high school competition cheer teams, CHS’s squad was awarded first place!
Now these girls, comprised of cheerleaders from the junior varsity and varsity squads, are advancing to the JAMZ All Star Cheer National Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada at the New Orleans Arena. The national championship, where they will compete against over twenty high school varsity teams, takes places February 17-19, 2017, and this hard working group of girls is practicing virtually around the clock to make sure their routine is flawless.
Led by coach Shella Sattler, a professional cheerleader who’s cheered in both the NBA and NFL, CHS’s competition cheerleaders not only have a lot of spirit, but have just as much heart. I recently had the opportunity to watch them practice after school at Spreckels Park, and couldn’t help but be impressed by them. They’re hard-working, driven, and enthusiastic, which one would expect from competition cheerleaders; but they’re also just as equally articulate, intelligent, and kind-hearted. Movies have a tendency to stereotype cheerleaders as backstabbing ditzes, but CHS’s competition squad is comprised of honors students who are genuinely supportive of one another.
Their team shirt for the upcoming nationals says it all – “Dream Big – Work Hard – Be Our Best!” Notice it doesn’t say, “Be Your Best,” but rather “Be Our Best!” This squad has gone from being a group of girls who volunteered, to becoming a little family, and their hard work is certainly paying off in a big way! Coach Shella Sattler says, “They did not have to try out for the competition team. If they wanted to put the extra work in and work very hard, no matter their skill level, they were allowed to join the team. That is what makes this victory so sweet.”
As I sat in awe watching the girls practice, I had the chance to chat with each girl and their coach for a minute, asking all of them the same questions.
What do you want the people of Coronado to know about your competition squad and about cheerleading as a sport?
Tell me your thoughts and feelings about the upcoming national championship. Did you ever think this competition squad would make it to the national championships?
Describe this group of girls on the competition squad.
Shella Sattler – Coach
I’d love the Coronado community to really look at cheerleading as a sport. I don’t think it’s been looked at as a sport by Coronado. I’m from Dallas, Texas, and it is a sport in Texas…a big sport! Cheerleading is as popular as football or basketball, and viewed as just as important because it’s considered to be a serious sport.
When I came to Coronado, I noticed that this community looked at cheerleading more like a recreational program, and it’s not. For me, one of my motivations for coaching this team is to really turn the face of cheerleading upside down here in Coronado, and really educate people and let them know this is indeed, no doubt about it, a sport.
Actually cheerleading is known to have more injuries and be more dangerous than football. It’s a very strenuous sport, and these kids are athletes, placing incredible demands on their bodies. They train just like an athlete would do for any sport, if not harder in some regards.
When we get to Vegas for nationals, we’re going to be facing teams from all over the country, which is very different than the one that we just won, which was just California. A lot of the teams we’re going to see have been cheering since they were three; this is all that they do. They [the competition] have huge facilities that are built just for cheerleading practices, with mirrors, cheer mats, and every piece of equipment you can imagine to train these cheerleaders while our cheerleaders are here practicing in Spreckels Park.
The competition at nationals is going to much higher, and we’re going to be faced with a lot more heavy competition in terms of difficulty and skill level. Being from Texas, it’s amazing for me as their coach to see these kids, who a lot of them are new to cheerleading and just started training and competing, to be going against teams who have been doing this their entire lives. These Coronado kids are pure heart, and that’s why I love coaching them. There’s pure heart and nothing else, and that’s why they’ve gotten this far. It’s unbelievable what they’ve accomplished in a matter of ten weeks! It’s going to be interesting to watch them.
When they went to regionals, and I saw them on stage, it was like they came alive! All of a sudden, they just turned on, and they nailed every single thing in that routine for the first time. They won the whole competition against seasoned teams who’ve been doing this for years together in facilities that are made for cheerleaders. It was a miracle! I always tell them this has been the sweetest victory of my career because they’ve only been together for ten weeks.
Now they’re going to nationals, and, with the same heart that they beat the other teams, they’ll do it again in Vegas. I absolutely believed they could make it this far. As their coach, you always want the best for your athletes, and you always want them to be the best that they can be.
Allie McPherson (Captain) – Senior
We are a very hardworking group of individuals, and we train all year. Our competition team trains for a shorter amount of time, but with a lot more intensity. Cheerleading as a sport is a lot different than what people think it is; it’s not just yelling and sideline chants at football games. It deserves more recognition as a sport for all of our tumbling stunts and everything we put into it.
I’m super excited for the competition. I know that we’ve worked really hard even though we’ve only gotten to do a couple of competitions this season. We get to do some traveling and team bonding along the way. For us seniors, it will be our last time competing so it will be a lot of fun. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles this season, including several injuries and having to teach girls the whole routine in one or two days. I didn’t think we’d be able to make it this far. I’m really proud of this whole team.
This is my favorite group of girls to work with. I’ve been on several gymnastic teams and a couple cheer teams, and out of all those teams, I really love the competition team the most. We’ve all just bonded really well together. We’ve formed really great friendships.
Claire Ballard (Captain) – Senior
I want people to know how hard we work, and even though we don’t get gym time all the time, we’re out here at Spreckels practicing. We practice several times a week. It took us seven hours to learn this whole routine with our choreographer. I don’t think people understand how hard we work, and there’s this misconception that we just wear mini-skirts. There’s so much more to it!
I’m really excited about the upcoming competition, but I know the teams we’re going against are also really good. We need to work our hardest to be able to beat them.
Everyone in this group is so supportive, and I know I could call any of them at any point in time if I ever needed help with anything. They’d always be right there for me. We all encourage each other constantly.
Maykayla Broussard – Senior
*Maykayla joined the competition squad after fellow teammate Olivia dislocated her shoulder. She had to learn the entire competition routine in just one week.
I want people to know that we’re hard working, and we don’t just play around. I feel like sometimes people don’t take cheerleaders seriously, and it’s definitely harder than they think it is.
I think this competition is going to be great! We’ve worked so hard. I haven’t been here the entire time, but the time I have been here has been fun even though it’s all work and no play. I think we’re going to do well considering how well we performed at regionals. I believed we could make it this far because everyone takes it seriously. I had to learn the routine under pressure, but it was worth it, and overall it was an amazing experience, and I’m glad it all worked out. I’m grateful I got the chance to compete during my senior year.
This group of girls is amazing! I’ve known most of them almost all my years of cheerleading, and I couldn’t be happier cheering with them.
I want the people of Coronado to know that a lot more work goes into this than people think. There are just so many things that go into it, all the little things we have to work on for a really long time so everything works together and looks good. I definitely think competition cheer is a sport, and I feel like some people don’t know that we actually compete against other teams. It’s pretty intense.
I’m excited for the nationals. I think it should be a lot of fun, and I think we’re ready! Shella has really prepared us. To be honest, I kind of did think we’d make it this far. We had a lot of potential.
This group of girls is so great! Everyone is so supportive of each other, and I just love having such a great support system with everyone being so helpful and nice.
Ashton Johnston – Junior
We work really hard, and cheerleading isn’t just a simple sport. You have to lift people, and you have to put all of your effort into the sport. It takes a lot of energy, and we put in so much hard work and dedication. It should be recognized as a sport and appreciated because in one weekend alone, we’ve put in over 18 hours. That’s just one weekend! When we’re working on our whole routine, we put in so much more effort, and it should be recognized.
I think we’ll do well at nationals. We got first place at our last competition, and we’re going to have to step it up for nationals. I believe in our team, and I think we can do it! The new additions to our routine will really boost our points as long as we hit it, and I think we can totally hit it. I honestly felt like we had a solid routine, and thought we could make it this far. We do even better under pressure. I’m very proud of our team.
This group of girls are dedicated and sweet, super nice. They put all of their hearts into cheerleading.
Caitlyn Williams – Junior
I want the people of Coronado to know we’re not just some fabricated team that just wants to cheer for being recognized, but that we actually work hard toward hitting a routine at our competitions. We work really hard together, developing bonds, making an impact, and helping our community. I’ve cheered for ten years now, and I want people to know cheerleading isn’t just about motions and yelling, but it’s also about hard work and involves a lot of training for physical strength. It’s not just about the uniform.
I’m so excited about nationals. I didn’t know what to expect because our team hasn’t been to a competition in two years, but I knew that we were going to do well because we’ve worked so hard on our technique and hitting our stunts.
This group of girls are all really driven. We work hard for Shella and each other, and I think that’s something really special about our team. None of us complain.
Isabella DiMatteo – Junior
I think I would just like people to know that we’re more than just sideline cheerleaders. I don’t know if people really see how much effort we put into this team. We practice almost every day of the week, and all they see is just the sidelines. I think it would be really cool if they could see what goes into competition cheering.
I’m really excited to go to Las Vegas. I’ve never done a cheer competition before out of state so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m excited. I did think we could make it this far. Everyone on this team has worked really hard, and with the amount of effort we put into it, I didn’t think it would be out of our reach.
I’ve become really close with my teammates on the competition team, even closer to them than I am with the girls on the regular team. We talk in group messages all the time, and it’s just really fun.
Johanna Warner – Junior
We work so hard every single day of the week. We have practices sometimes twice a day on the weekends! We work hard at every practice. We leave sweating, and we leave making sure that we’re confident in everything that we’re doing. To the people who don’t think cheering is a sport, there are aspects to cheer that I would agree make it sound like it’s not a sport. For example, standing on the sideline and clapping is not a sport. Pretty much everything else that we do makes cheering a sport. Gymnastics is a sport, and we do a lot of gymnastics. We’re constantly lifting people up into the air, which is hard. I completely think it’s a sport, and it should be more respected.
I’m so excited! We’ve worked so hard, and we’re going to continue working hard. We’re making improvements every day. We won, but we still have so much more to improve on, and we’re adding to our routine too. I’m really looking forward to it. Yes, I believed we would come this far. We have this amazing coach, and she’s invested so much time in us. From day one I could see us winning, and moving on to regionals.
This is the greatest group of girls! We all get along, and have an intimate bond because we’re not just with one group of people; we’re moving around and doing stunts with other people. Everyone has something to add to the team, which is just a great thing to even be able to say.
Kassie Grammar – Junior
I want people to know that we don’t cheer because we want to be popular, but we do it because love the sport of cheering. We don’t do it to wear the uniform or win a title, but we do it because it’s what we love. People should know that it’s a lot harder than they think it is. I know I get very stressed out whenever I can’t do certain things. It takes a while, and you have to practice a lot in order to get everything perfect.
I’m really excited about nationals, and I’m not that nervous because we did really well at our last competition. I know we can do it again, and do even better than we did last time. Yes, I was pretty positive we would get this far.
There was no official tryout, and we all just came together because we were willing to work together. Everybody puts 100% in even if we’re having a rough day at school, we’re excited to come cheer because we know it means we’ll be together.
Katy Bradford – Junior
I want the people of Coronado to know that we’re not just the people who put on our uniforms and shake our pom poms. We’re actually an athletic team who practices multiple hours a week, and we work hard toward our goal, which is obviously to hit competitions. We are a sport, and we do get injured. It’s super dangerous, and what we do involves a lot of hard work and technique. We’re not people who just smile for a camera; we’re an athletic team.
I’m really excited for the upcoming competition because we’ve never had the opportunity to hold the title of national champions, and I think that’s something that helps our reputation as a team. It’s something we all want really badly and something we’re excited for. We hope to take home first place. I definitely did not think we’d make it this far, but being with this group of people, who love each other so much and work so hard together toward our goals, makes me believe.
This team is pretty much my group of friends. I spend my life with them basically. It’s such a diverse group of people yet we all get along so well, and we all know how to work together. It’s great.
Kennedy Scott (Captain) – Junior
I would like people to know that we’re a hard working group who love to show that cheer is not just something where you stand on the side at games and cheer. It’s actually something where you compete, and put in a lot of effort.
I’m super excited about the upcoming championship. I’m a little nervous too because there’s a lot of competition at nationals. Mostly I’m excited to show everyone that our team is nationals ready. I didn’t really understand what the regionals competition entailed, but once we got there I knew our team had what it takes to make it to nationals.
This is the most loving, friendly group of girls ever! The thing about our team is that there’s nobody out just for themselves. Everyone wants everybody to win so it’s perfect.
Madeline Bosworth – Junior
I want people to know it’s harder than it looks, and a lot of works goes into cheerleading. A lot of dedication and time goes into too.
I’m feeling pretty confident about the upcoming competition and a little nervous too. We’re going to do well. Honestly I didn’t think we’d get this far, but I’m glad we did.
This group of girls is crazy and loving. We’re a family.
I want people to know that we’re a sport that should be taken seriously because we work really hard all the time.
I’m excited but nervous about nationals. It will be my first time at nationals so I’m a little freaked out because I don’t want to embarrass myself or my teammates. I was confident in myself and my teammates, but I didn’t know whether we’d ever make it this far. I hoped we would, but there’s always this little voice inside my head that says, “But what if you don’t?”
We all love what we do, and we all love each other. It’s just this great circle of positivity and happiness even though it gets kind of intense sometimes because of the nature of the sport.
Victoria Naser Saravia – Sophomore
I think a lot of people expect cheerleading to be fun and not very serious, but we work really hard as a team, and we practice often. It’s really worth it. I don’t think people think of cheering as an actual sport, but it is, and should be recognized as a sport.
I’m really excited for nationals, and I think we have a good chance at winning! I didn’t think about whether we’d make it this far; I just gave it my all, and I’m really proud of us that we’re here.
We’re an amazing group of girls! We work really hard, and even though we’ve had a couple of setbacks, we got through them together.
Some people see cheering as something that’s easy to do, but it’s actually a difficult sport that requires a lot of technique. We spend a lot of time going to practices every single day.
I’m really excited about the upcoming competition because we already got first place at the last competition. I’m excited to see what we’ll accomplish at the next one! I never thought I’d be able to do such difficult stunts and activities in such a short amount of time. We’ve learned so much, and we probably wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without Shella.
We’re all a big group of best friends.
Keelin Duffey – Freshman
We are a sport. I know a lot of people just think we cheer on the sidelines, but we do put a lot of work outside of the gym. We’re not just a team that cheers on other teams.
I’m excited, but also a little nervous, but just because we work all season for two minutes and thirty seconds. It’s not like other sports, where you can just bring it the next inning or the next quarter if you make a mistake. It’s nerve-racking, but also it’s also really exciting because we push ourselves to see what we can do. I did think we could make it this far, but when one of the girls dislocated her shoulder, I thought, “Oh, no!” We all really pulled together though, and it worked out. I’m very happy.
This group of girls are hard workers, and are very nice. They’re there for you if anything happens.
Maddie Mckinzie Smith – Freshman
I think most people think of cheer just as a sport where you go out and cheer for the boys at football games. This is more competitive, and we use more resources. We go to places where regular cheer teams don’t. We’ve had a lot of injuries that most sports don’t, like dislocated shoulders and concussions. We want to win, and we are dedicated.
I’m a little nervous about the upcoming competition, but it will be fun. We’ll be able to bond more, and have fun together. I’ve had a lot of faith in our team all season. I think we’re really good.
We’re very hardworking and determined. We have a lot of energy and are able to really focus.
Natalie Fenton – Freshman
People kind of think cheerleading is not that difficult, but we practice a lot more than you’d guess.
I’m scared, but I know we’re going to nail it! I didn’t know what to expect at the last competition, how we would compare to other teams, but we did really well even though we hadn’t competed before. No, I never thought we’d make it this far. I just started cheerleading this year. When tryouts were held in April last year, I decided half an hour before tryouts that I wanted to do it. It was kind of a casual thing, and I didn’t think I’d make it to this point.
This is a really cool group of girls. I like every one of them.
Natalie Marteney – Freshman
I want people to know that we work really hard to put our routines together. Cheerleading is more difficult than people think, and we put a lot of time and effort into our routines.
We’re all really excited I think, and we’re bringing our game. Hopefully we’ll place first again! No, I never thought we’d make it this far. We live in such a small town, and I never imagined we’d go to such a big competition.
We’re all a family, and we love each other so much.
Sophia Tovar – Freshman
I just want people to know that cheerleading takes a lot of time out of your personal life, but it’s so worth it because you get to meet a great group of people. Practices are tough because you have to nail parts of routines, and if you don’t nail it, you have to practice more. I feel like people assume we only practice once a week, and it’s really simple to do. Cheerleading takes a lot of energy and patience.
I think we’re all looking forward to the competition. We’ve been working really hard the past few months to nail this routine. When we were first together, I didn’t think we’d be able to nail all these stunts that we can do now. After a while, we really started coming together.
This is an amazing group of girls. They’re all really loving, and are so nice.
Olivia Dudley – Freshman
Olivia dislocated her shoulder, and wasn’t at practice the day I spoke with the squad. Even though she is injured and won’t be competing at nationals, Olivia will still be traveling with the team, and her name is still featured on the team’s nationals T-shirt, proving yet again what a close-knit group of girls this competition squad is.