Fossil Ridge High School’s cheerleading squad won’t need a second chance at a first impression on the national stage.
The Fort Collins school won the Large Varsity Division I category this past weekend in their first finals appearance at the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Fla., with Dr. Julie Chaplain, their principal, ever-present.
Coach Nikki Rodriguez’s group of 20 boosted the difficulty of their routine, taking their skills from “elite” to “super elite” in preparation for the run they wanted in Orlando.
“The goal was to be consistent,” Rodriguez said. “We upgraded from what they’d been doing the past five months. It’s a ton of work to upgrade those skills at the part of the season where they’re the most tired, toward the end.”
Because judges look for stunts in the air, Fossil Ridge challenged themselves to make a strong impression, Rodriguez said. “It’s hard to get five stunt groups doing the same thing every single time.”
Fossil Ridge went to Orlando with momentum after dispatching Class 5A state champion Grandview in regionals. That energy was immediately tested with three competitions throughout Friday that went until midnight, only to return on four hours sleep for Saturday’s slate at 7 a.m.
“They’re amazing kids, amazing families,” Rodriguez said. “Our principal came with them, traveled along the entire time and supported the program. That’s a testament to Fossil Ridge in general.”
Rodriguez can testify to that. The seventh-year coach was in the school’s first graduating class and was the program’s first cheer captain. The majority of her championship-winning staff is comprised of athletes she coached at her alma mater. As for the students, half of the 20-girl roster was made up of seniors, accompanied by three juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen.
“They’re very sentimental and emotional and close. It’s a family,” Rodriguez said.
Fossil Ridge was also represented at the dance team championship. Although they didn’t escape preliminaries, the dance team went for the first time in school history.
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports