The Arcadia High School Cheer and Pom squads that make up the school’s spiritline program have both qualified for the USA Nationals competition, a testament to the Titans’ energy and enthusiasm for their sport.
The cheer team placed first and the pom team placed second out of 22 teams at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s (AIA) State Qualifiers in November. Cheer head coach Moriah Johnson said the girls’ success was the result of their commitment and hard work.
“This win was so exciting since this is their second year competing as a team,” Johnson said. “From the beginning the girls showed up with the right attitude, ready to get work done. Our warm-up was as perfect as warm-ups could go.”
A solid start and weeks of preparation gave the Titans the confidence they needed when they hit the mat to perform in front of the AIA judges. Johnson said the cheer and pom squads both impressed the judges, standing out from the rest of the competitors from around the Valley.
“They looked really clean and their energy topped it off, which is what really helped us stand apart,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the squads are very dedicated to early morning practices. They are constantly honing their routines and work to make every section of their performance run smoothly. Cheer and pom coaches prioritize preparation and practice, with the cheer team focused on tumbling and stunting, while pom is more dance-based.
“It felt amazing to get first, like all of our hard work had paid off,” said Cheer Co-Captain and senior Anna Gibb. “We are so excited to compete at all of the other competitions and can’t wait to improve in our difficulty level, such as new stunts and tumbling. I also hope that we do just as well at state and other competitions this year, especially since it is my last year competing with this team.”
There are 15 athletes on cheer and 14 athletes on pom. One of the keys to success is taking the choreography and making it their own. Keeping time together is also important, as the teams practice consistency while they run the routines.
“They only have one chance to compete with their routine, so they have to be able to do it with their eyes closed. And in their sleep,” Johnson said. “That way they feel confident they can complete it.”
Johnson took over as head cheer coach in July. A former cheerleader at Greenway High School, Johnson said she’s strict with making sure the team looks clean and synchronized in every aspect when they perform. While her guidance has undoubtedly helped, Johnson said the teams deserve the credit.
“I’m just the one who tries to prepare them as much as I can,” Johnson said. “Once they are out on the mat, there’s nothing I can do to help them.”
Johnson said that there’s always an element of suspense at the cheer and pom competitions as the squads don’t watch the other schools perform. Finding out how they placed, especially at a big event like state qualifiers, is one of the most exciting elements.
“Coaching them has been a blast,” Johnson said. “I always tell my girls and their parents that I couldn’t ask for a better team or a better program. My first season has been everything I could have dreamed of.”
The state championship takes place on February 1. Nationals will take place on February 14-16 in Anaheim, California.