SIDNEY — One solid team.
That’s the goal for members of the Sidney Competition Cheer Squad. The 11-member squad is beginning a new competition year after successfully going to state competition during the 2014-15 school year where they placed 11th in their division. Last year was the first year for the competitive team.
The squad is coached by Jenny Luebke. Members of the team includes five returnees, senior Kendra Dembski, juniors Bailey Wiford, Hannah Wiford and Kiera Leiss and sophomore Kathryn Imke, along with first-year members senior Elizabeth Barr, sophomores Gabi Rice, Jhiear Malveaux and Khaila Price and freshmen Ava Money and Avery Roberts.
Tryouts were held in the spring for the football and basketball squads. Luebke attended the try-outs in the spring and selected her squad from those who made one of the other squads.
“You tried out for this one at the same time you tried out to be on basketball of football,” said Dembski. “You have to be on basketball or football squad to be on the competition squad.”
Members of the competition squad, said Luebke, had to be able to tumble and do a back handspring.
“They have the same skills as those on the varsity level cheerleading squads,” said Luebke. “The program is evolving and we’re seeing more gymnasts trying out. They all heave great attitudes toward to the team.”
The squad members attended a camp during the summer to learn new skills and hone the ones they already had achieved. During the summer break, they practiced for two hours a day, three days a week.
“We want to build as a team,” said Dembski. “We went to camp and during that time, we came together as a team.”
The group attended the Cheer Ohio camp held at Dennison University. There were 20 squads there learning from the instructors and also learning from one another.
“We learned cheers and stunts,” said Barr. “We also have fun dances to use for football. We’ll also be performing at basketball games.”
“The camp gave them the opportunity to build as a team,” said Luebke. “It was a fun experience for them.”
Each member of the squad, said Dembski, can teach the others different things.
“The freshmen can teach the seniors,” she said.
The summer practices included a run to warm up, 45 minutes in exercises and then work on the routines. They will be competing in 10 competitions this year.
“The competitive team was something head cheer coach Jen Wiford had talked about,” said Luebke. “She approached the athletic director about it and they called and asked if I’d coach the squad.”
Dembski has been involved with cheerleading since she was six years old. She cheered with the cheer team at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA. She has been a member of the basketball and football cheer squads since the seventh grade.
Barr, who started cheering when she was 5 years old at the Cheer Barn, took a break from cheering for a few years. This is her first year on the competition team and on the varsity basketball squad.
“It’s been a lot different coming back,” said Barr. “It’s going to be a fun season.”
Dembski said she’s looking forward to the season also.
“I’m looking forward to being a senior on the squad and helping the other members grow. They’ll also be helping us grow,” said Dembski.
The squad, said Luebke, is well-rounded.
“We have girls who are members of the track, soccer and volleyball teams and are also involved with gymnastics,” said Luebke. “They are all supper students.”
Luebke said the squad will be holding fundraisers so they can purchase new uniforms. The Cheer Booster organization also helps raise money for mats and other equipment.
The squad’s first competition will be Dec. 5 at Kettering Fairmont. It is a GWOC competition meet.
During their first year of competition last year, the squad earned a first, second and fourth place in GWOC. They were snowed out of the Ohio State University competition. The qualified for the state competition at a regional meet.
Their goal for this year: placing in the top 10 at the state competition.
“Cheer competition is a year long,” said Luebke. “They try out at the end of April and the first part of June they were ready for their three-day camp.”
Luebke said the other cheer coaches support the squad throughout the school year. Dawn Roberts is the junior varsity basketball and football cheer coach, while Jennifer Wiford is the varsity basketball and football cheer coach.
“This is a team effort and we appreciate everything they do for us,” said Luebke.