There is something special about the atmosphere at high school sporting events.
The crowd overflows with friends – any players’ personal hype man – and proud parents. But that is present at any level in sports. In high school, similar to college, it’s more about what happens on the field, it’s also about the experience. A large part of that experience are the cheerleaders.
They are with their team through thick and thin, always there to pump up the players and keep the crowd involved. It’s a noticeable difference when they’re not there. However, they do a lot more than just cheer and shake their pom-poms.
In 2019, the CIF-Southern Section officially recognized cheerleading as its own sport. It hosted the first-ever CIF-Southern Section Ford Traditional Competitive Cheer Championship and Saugus High School was the runner-up to Mater Dei in the Division 1AA bracket.
This year, the Centurions’ spirit squad stepped up its game and took home the Division 4A Championship. With no deductions, the Centurions scored the highest score of the day. A near-perfect score of 91.50, Saugus leaped ahead of the competition in a division of 15 other teams.
“Honestly last year I felt like we were happy with runner-up because we didn’t have a perfect routine,” said head coach Candace Rogers. “It pushed us harder to take it home this year. This year we worked hard to prepare ourselves to be our best. We were more prepared this year to go into CIF.”
Deductions in competitive cheer are not hard to come by, especially when considering all of the different things the girls have to focus on with each routine. They can be lumped into five distinct categories; falls, boundary violations, time limit violations, safety violations and unsportsmanlike conduct.
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The Division 4A runner-up, California High School, was more than 10 points behind the Centurions with a score of 81.40.
“I’m just proud of them,” Rogers said. “Just super proud of the athletes.”
The CIF season ends with this competition in January, and the Centurions could ask for no better way to wrap it up.
Although there is no next step for CIF cheer, Saugus is slated to appear in multiple national cheer competitions in 2020. The 17-member all-girls squad will be headed to Orlando, Fl. in just over two weeks for the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship.
The competition will take place Feb. 7-9 and can be streamed online.
“Hopefully the girls just take it and continue to be confident and work together and finish strong,” Rogers said. “Florida nationals is probably our biggest competition because you have teams from all over the U.S. come. Hopefully they carry confidence from the last competition and continue to do their job.”