Cheering their way to the top

FDSH teams bring home 2 state titles Saturday

After months of hard work in the “pre-season,” Fort Dodge Senior High cheerleaders have brought home two state titles from the Iowa Cheerleading state championship Saturday.

“We had a really great day,” said K.C. Williams, head coach.

The teams won a co-ed state title and a time-out 4A division state title, she said.

“We took down 49 cheerleaders, two teams and a stunt group, and came away with two state titles,” Williams said.

The time-out category is a quick, one-minute routine.

“It’s what your team can do from the sound of the buzzer for that one minute to the end of the buzzer,” Williams said. “It has traditional cheer and stunting and tumbling. There’s no dance component.”

The co-ed team started training in August, while the team has been practicing the time-out routine since the end of September. Both teams have a try-out process to select who will go, she said.

“They work with our choreographer,” Williams said of the co-ed team. “We start practicing two days a week on top of their regular practice schedule, and they were tumbling once a week. The past two weeks they’ve had practice every day for a minimum of two hours every day.

“Time out starts a little later. … I wrote a cheer, and Coach Julie Springer took it over and choreographed it, and built a routine around that.”

The students are able to excel thanks to support from the community, she said.

“I wanted to thank the Fort Dodge community,” she said. “The reason we are able to train year round and do the things we do is that bond issue.

“We now have a facility that is built for practicing cheer. We don’t have to scrounge for gym space,” Williams continued. “Cheer has been supported by the community; it’s been supported by the school district. I wouldn’t be able to train my athletes without that bond issue that passed, and provided that new multipurpose room.”

Before the cheer teams had to practice wherever they could find space, even in the cafeteria, she said.

“This new multipurpose room is amazing,” she said. “It allows us to do full-out practicing and have a complete 42-by-42 competition floor down. It’s safe and well-lit. The ceilings are high enough for basket tosses and pyramids we do.”

And the kids have taken that opportunity and made the best of it.

“They’re putting in the work in the off season in camps, and in the weight rooms, and in tumbling. Just like in any other sport, they’re doing the work in the pre-season,” Williams said. “I think Dodger cheer has a long-standing tradition of being a good cheer squad. So the fundamentals of stunting and performing are already there.

“We were able to put together teams that bonded very well, trained very well, worked together — always striving for the more elite-level stunts, a little higher level tumbling. These kids just put in the work in practices to get better.”

The teams will decide now if they want to go on, working their way through regional competitions to make it to the national championship in Florida.

“In past years some have decided to go on, and some have not,” she said. “Right now I’m letting them enjoy the win, and have a little downtime.”

Williams is in her 11th year with the program, and Springer her 10th, Williams said. In that time, teams have brought home six co-ed titles, three time-out titles and two stunt titles.

“We were given a good program, and we continue to build on that basis,” she said. “Cheer has evolved in the past 10 years into a very athletic activity and sport. When we compete it’s a sport. And we’ve trained our athletes. They’ve gotten better every year.”