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Photo Courtesy of Dale Ford
Oak Hills High Schools' cheerleading squads combined for the highest score of all varsity teams earlier this month, earning them the Overall Varsity Cheerleading State Championship at the Sharp State Cheerleading competition.

Cheer squad nabs state championships

JV, varsity teams take away honors

In the last 25 years, cheerleading has evolved into something far beyond wearing a skirt and shaking poms.

Not to be outdone, Oak Hills High School’s cheer squads are keeping up with the evolution — and winning big honors in the process.

Today’s cheerleaders still put on pep rallies and promote school spirit on campus and at sports games, but they have become more athletic themselves over the years and now perform complex stunts. Girls are thrown in the air or raised above their bases’ heads standing on one leg or two, and along with gymnastics, draw the attention of their crowd to motivate them to cheer louder during the games.

Many high schools and colleges have added males to their squads which allow them to throw the girls higher and do more advanced stunts. These are called co-ed squads and Oak Hills has always been a co-ed team.

While high school sports athletes get major recognition when they play three sports in a row, every cheerleader works all three seasons of fall, winter and spring. The main focus of the cheer squad is always to support the teams at their school and raise the school spirit on campus, but along with the development of athleticism in cheerleading has come a new element between the cheerleaders from various schools: competition.

At the end of the winter sports season, many competitions are held to see which squad has the best cheerleading skills around. These competitions involve a three-minute routine combining cheer, dance, stunts, tumbling and choreography.

One of the biggest of these competitions is the Sharp State Cheerleading Championship held at Knott’s Berry Farm every February. Oak Hills’ junior varsity and varsity squads have competed there the last four years. They won their first state championship in 2011, and have successfully defended their title every year since. This year on Feb. 15, the Bulldogs won the JV Division of the State Cheerleading Championship, the Large Varsity Co-ed Advanced Division, and with the highest score of all varsity teams that day, won the Overall Varsity Cheerleading State Championship.

When all points were added together from each division and special events for the day, Oak Hills won the coveted Grand State Cheerleading Championship as a school.

The Bulldogs began creating and practicing their routines in October and have been perfecting them ever since. Oak Hills is one of the only squads around that creates 95 percent of their own routine themselves. Many schools bring in choreographers who give them the whole routine ready-made, but the Bulldogs use their own ideas and have only 20 seconds of one dance choreographed for them. It’s this creativity and originality that has helped Oak Hills win over the last four years. Congratulations on your four-peat and winning tradition.

— Dale Ford is the cheer coach at Oak Hills High School.


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