SIDNEY — The Sidney High School Varsity Competition Cheer Team cheered its way to being named most spirited team during the AmeriCheer International Cheer and Dance Championship held March 18-19 at the ESPN Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Membersof the team Kiera Leiss, daughter of Christina Thomas; Hannah Wiford, daughter of Andy and Jennifer Wiford; Gabi Rice, daughter of Melissa and Michael Rice; Khaila Price, daughter of Latoya Price and Christy and Billy Price; Ava Money, daughter of Blake Money and Shannon O’Leary; Makayla Kennedy, daughter of Ray and Ann Wise; Avery roberts, daughter of Dawn and Brandon Roberts; and Jazmin Boatman, daughter of Candace and Willie Boatman, received the “Show Your Spirit” Award, which is given to the team with the most spirit and sportsmanship.
The team placed second in the flat mat division and fourth in the spring floor division. They were a non-mount squad for the competition. The team is coached by Jenny Luebke.
There were more than 60 teams competing at the international competition at various levels. The Sidney squad won an in-bid to the international competition after qualifying at the Open National AmeriCheer in Columbus. they were division champions, grand champions and high point award recipients at the Columbus competition.
Leiss and Wiford have been members of the squad for three years.
“I’ve done competition cheer since I was little,” said Wiford. “I wanted to be on the team at the high school.
“I’ve learned to push myself,” said Wiford of what she’s learned from being a member of the team. “I’ve learned to work harder. If you don’t push yourself, you won’t be successful.”
Wiford said the chance to cheer at the international competition is something she’ll never forget.
“Standing behind the black curtain before we went on was an amazing feeling,” said Wiford. “You know you’re going out to perform for a huge crowed at Disney world. It was a great feeling.”
Leiss has also grown up with competition squads.
“I’ve progressed a lot the three years I’ve been a cheerleader,” said Leiss. “I’ve learned more motions and jumps and I think I’ve progressed very well.”
She said being a member of the team has helped her learn how to deal with rough times in her life.
“We’ve had some rough times,” said Leiss, “But even with the rough times, everything that’s happened has been for the best. You have to have die hard dedication and be able to work through those those times to get to the end of your goal.”
As a senior, Leiss said she’s been happy to share her experience with the younger members of the team.
“Everything we’ve experienced this year, I couldn’t have done it by myself,” said Leiss.
Rice, Price, Money and Roberts are all second year members of the team.
“I’ve learned that you don’t let things stop you,” said Rice. “You can come through anything even if it’s tough.”
While at the competition in Florida, she said the best part was hearing all the other teams cheer for Sidney when they were competing. She also made friends with people on other teams while she was in Florida.
“The support and love from the people who enjoy the same thing we do was great,” said rice.
Price said she’s loved being a member of the competition squad. She was a member of a competition squad at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA when she was younger.
“I was hoping to get to cheer on the sidelines once I got here,” said Price. She tried out for the competition squad the first time during her sophomore year.
“I’ve learned sportsmanship from being on the team,” said Price.”I’ve learned how to be there for others and how to help others too.”
Price said she loved the support the team received from other teams during the international competition.
“They (Sidney team) befriended a team from Delphos St. Johns (in Ohio),” said Luebke. “their girls and parents supported us when we were competing.”
Money was a sideline cheerleader at Sidney Middle school. She was at a Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) competition and saw the high school competition squads competing.
“I thought that sounded like something I’d like,”said Money. “I’ve learned to be part of a team. I’ve learned to help others and to push through anything that happens.”
Money said she liked being in Florida with her team and going to Disney World for the first time.
Roberts said she’s been competing since she was four years old.
“I wanted to get back into the competitive world,” said Roberts of her decision to try out for the squad.
“I’ve learned that everyone can face tough situations,” said Roberts. “I like competing in Florida and having the other teams cheer for us. I also liked meeting the other team members.”
Kennedy and Boatman are first year members of the team.
“Growing up, everyone told me I had the personality of a cheerleader,” said Kennedy. “I saw some performances at school and I loved it, so I tried out.
“I’ve learned it’s better to come together as a team for everything,” she said. “It’s been good to have people I could talk to.”
In Florida, she enjoyed spending time with her teammates and going to the beach.
“I loved singing with everyone in the car (during the trip),” said Kennedy.
Boatman said she’s also been competing since she was four years old. When she got to the high school, and learned there was a competition team, she knew she wanted to try out.
“I wanted to try something new,” said Boatman. “As the youngest member of the team, i have to step up and do my job always.
The best thing about the international competition Boatman said, was “Being on the floor with the team and feeling like we were a family.”
Luebke said she was honored her team won the most spirited award.
“In the flat mat competition, we placed second,” said Luebke. “We missed first by .4 points. Sidney was the only team on the mat to clap for the first place team. The AmeriCheer president told me the team ‘was the classiest group of ladies he’s ever seen.’ They showed their team spirit. It’s been a really honor to coach them.”
The team members did fundraisers to attend the international competition, said Luebek. Each girl paid for one-third of their trip; donations from the community and individuals paid for one-third of the trip; and the Sidney High School Athletic Department paid for one-third of the trip.
“Before the competition teams were created, there were sideline coaches who took their squads to competitions. Jennifer Wiford, Mary Jannides, Tina Edwards, Holly Cagle, Sarah Barr and Renee Davis — just to name a few— who paved the way for these competition squads,” said Luebke. “I’m thankful for these former coaches who helped make the SHS cheerleading program the success it is today.”
Luekbe has been the varsity competition cheer team coach since the team was established in 2014. This year Luebke started a competition team at the junior high level. Members of the junior high team are Katie Atwood, Abby Nuss, Ryleigh Clark, Darien McBride, Megan Miu, Kendal Price, Nylah Houts, Sydney Boshears and Amber Townsend.