OCEAN CITY — The North Dorchester Eagles are flying high after the high school’s cheerleading team won second place in the large varsity medium division in the Reach the Beach Cheer and Dance Competition on Saturday. That means the girls also qualified for the U.S. Finals, set for Virginia Beach, Va., May 6-7.
But first things first – right now, they’re basking in the glow of their success.
“I am just so proud of these ladies. They worked hard and grew into a family,” Coach Amber Aaron said.
Captains Stella Thomas and Meredith Bell, joined by co-captains Erin Summy and Cloe Jackson, led teammates Brittany Hooper, Jasmine Lofland, Hannah McCollister, Jocelyn Meyers, Bri’Yanna Chester, Kayley Bradley, Lindsey Bradley, Madison Schuyler, Taylor Kairyes, Jessica Young, Lemya Reeves, Najee Griffin, Jessica Ramey and Destiny Coleman through the challenges of the season.
The group started working on their routine in October of last year, and had to juggle schedules, with nearly all the cheerleaders being involved with other sports, activities and college classes.
“They always had to split practices, so it was a lot of work on everyone,” Coach Aaron said. “Practice is hard, because we train in the cafeteria, so every day before and after practice, we have to move all the tables and chairs to get a space.”
Now that they’re the proud owners of a unique and impressive trophy – it’s big, and shaped like a surfboard – Coach Aaron joked that the girls might make the cafeteria their own.
“After we got the huge surfboard, I said, ‘I wonder where we are going to put this,’ and one of my team members said, ‘We should get it hung in the cafeteria to claim that is our practice space.’ Moving every single one of those tables and chairs has now been worth it.”
Lugging all that furniture must have gotten them warmed up pretty well, because the girls went on to learn new skills.
“A lot of the girls pushed their limits this year and tried new things,” Coach Aaron said. “We had team members who were bases who became flyers and backspots who became bases. Everyone did what they had to do to make this the best routine possible. It definitely paid off.”
With the qualifying finish in O.C. came a partially paid bid to the Finals. If the team receives approval to attend, a fundraising push will get started to make up the rest of the expense of going to Virginia Beach.
But for now, it just feels good to be successful in representing North Dorchester. “Earning second place was more than enough for me. But when I found out we got the partial bid as well, I was beyond excited for them,” Coach Aaron said. “They genuinely care about each other. This is one of the best teams that I have ever coached. They give 100 percent, and it showed.”