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Murray Journal

Cottonwood cheer finishes 8th at nationals with song/pompom routine

Jun 01, 2017 10:13AM ● By Travis Barton

The Cottonwood High cheerleaders pose in front of iconic Disneyland castle during their trip to nationals. (Camille Crawley/Cottonwood cheer)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]


Every year, nationals culminates the end of the season for the Cottonwood High School cheerleading team, according to head coach Camille Crawley.

But, the manner in which the ladies got to that point is not only an interesting one, it was fraught with speed bumps and danger, she added.

“It all started in September when the squad was formed,” said Crawley, who selected 20 kids for the varsity team and then split them into four-person groups.

Once you get these four-person teams, she said, that’s where the fun begins. “When you form a routine you’re basing it off the skills you have,” she added.

There are different levels you can compete against, but there is one common thread that links it all together, according to Crawley.

“Everyone has to stunt,” she added, stating that everyone has to perform different kinds of jumps, cartwheels, tricks and, of course, flips. Crawley also pointed out that in this group, two people at the bottom of the pyramid keep the four-person foundation together and upright by holding the feet of those performers above them—facing each other.

At the top of this four-person formation stands one person who is a flier while the other aloft is called a back spot—the latter probably the most important in Crawley’s opinion because the back spot is the person in charge of making sure nobody falls and gets seriously injured.

Once the four-person routines are perfected and practiced at Cottonwood football and basketball games, that’s when the real fun begins, Crawley said.

“The United Spirit Association hosts a regional competition to qualify the routines,” said Crawley, who added that there are usually three to four high schools in Utah at the event that was held Jan. 7 at Roy High School.

At regionals, the cheer team was put in an awful predicament, she said. “We had a girl dislocate her elbow doing a back handspring, and so we had to change our routine with her being out of it.”

Even so, Crawley added that they are “very resourceful kids” and so despite the injury to one of her top tumblers, the team qualified three routines for nationals in California—held March 24-26.

“So from there, we brought in a choreographer and got feedback from judges [at regionals] and worked on our cheering at games and worked on our stunts in practices,” said Crawley, who urged the team to stay positive as they prepped for nationals.

Once the basketball season ended, she added that the team put on a big showcase at Cottonwood’s main gym in early March to show off to the students what they’d learned—and to recognize all the seniors who had helped make a trip to nationals happen.

“It was the last time the team would be together locally so we wanted to make it a night to remember,” said Crawley. From that point forward, the team held a special tryout and had girls audition separately for a song and pompom routine, locked those spots down and headed to California for nationals.

At nationals, the team took three different routines. One routine was a show cheer routine by the whole team that didn’t place, said Crawley. “The stunts didn’t hit and some of the other things didn’t go as well as we’d hoped,” she added. The second routine was done by a group of five girls that was a stunt routine—and that also didn’t place.

But, the song/pompom routine that was cobbled together through an audition at the school later in the process garnered an 8th place finish—one place off of a trophy finish, according to Crawley, who said the top seven teams at nationals received hardware for their hard work.

Nevertheless, Crawley added it was a great year. During nationals, the kids were able to visit Disneyland and chill with Mickey Mouse and gang and build memories that would last a lifetime.

“I was really impressed with this team,” she said, looking back on the experience. “Being able to push themselves like they did despite the injuries, I really think they did a great job.”