SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — The Cheeriffic All-Stars made a big splash last year when two of its squads brought home national youth cheerleading championships.
The girls of Cheeriffic are at it again this season.
Not two, but three Cheeriffic squads have qualified for nationals this time around.
The Logan-based teams are scheduled to compete at the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Youth All-Star National Cheerleading Championships, set for March 9-10 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.
All three of the Cheeriffic squads turned in dazzling performances at the Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships, held Dec. 1-2 at the Sevierville Events Center, in Sevierville, Tenn.
The Cheeriffic Tiny 1 group won the Tennessee event championship by topping eight other squads and punching their ticket to Florida.
The Cheeriffic Youth Level 2 team is also Orlando-bound after taking first place in its seven-team group.
Logan’s Cheeriffic Youth Level 3 team also qualified for the nationals and was less than one point behind the first-place team.
The Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships attracted more than 100 squads from all over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, including Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida.
The Cheeriffic All-Star cheerleaders were formed seven years ago by their coach and founder Heather Bryant. Brittney Hartman also coaches the squads, which are made up of mostly Logan area girls ages 5 and up.
“This was the fiercest competition that the teams have ever competed against,” Hartman said. “Every single team competing was equally talented and amazing.”
Bryant agreed, saying the competition was very difficult.
“We were on the edge of our seats during the awards ceremony because of the high level of talent displayed out on the competition floor,” Bryant said. “This competition definitely raised the bar and we could not be any prouder of all of the squads. All three teams have qualified for the 2013 UCA National All-Star Cheerleading Championships inside of Disney World at the Walt Disney World Resort in March.”
Bryant and Hartman fielded two all-star cheer groups last year. Both teams were crowned U.S. National Champion.
This year, Cheeriffic has switched over for the first time to a different governing body, UCA.
Last April, the Cheeriffic Tinys and Minis won national titles in the U.S. Cheer event which was held at Orlando’s Silver Spurs Arena.
The Tinys took last year’s Tiny Cheer national crown by winning in their 44-team division. Some of the competing teams came from such places as Nevada, California, Virginia, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Louisiana, Maryland, Arkansas, Kentucky and Ohio.
Last year’s Cheeriffic Tinys also toppled the other two squads from West Virginia — Fairmont’s Fusion 5 All-Stars, which were ninth and Morgantown’s CTA High Flyers, which placed 32nd.
Last year’s Minis were national champions in the 22-team Mini Cheer division and beat squads from California, Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois, Delaware, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.
Before heading to the nationals in less than three months, the Cheeriffic All-Stars are scheduled to take part in three more events.
Bryant said some girls as young as 3 begin tumbling at downtown Logan’s Flip-N-Twist Gym, the place where many of the Cheeriffic team members work each week on their gymnastics skills.
The gym offers all levels of gymnastics classes Monday through Friday.
Bryant said none of the success would be possible without the help of her monther, Teresa Bryant, who owns the gym and has been running it for 16 years. If you are interested in enrolling your child in a gymnastics class, please call 304-752-1782.
* This year’s UCA/UDA (Universal Dance Association) International All-Star Championships are scheduled to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and the Indiana Jones Theater at the Hollywood Studios Theme Park in Orlando.
The weekend competition will include all-star cheer and dance teams from various levels/age groups. Competitors will range in age from 4 years to 18 years of age. The cheer competition includes Mini, Tiny, Youth, Junior, Senior, International Open, Limited Coed and Coed categories.
Last year’s UCA Nationals attracted 350 squads and was truly an international event as cheerleading squads converged on Florida from such places as Vancouver, Canada and Tsukuba, Japan. Latin America was also well represented as teams came from Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
The UCA was founded in 1974 by Jeff Webb to provide high quality educational training for college and high school cheerleaders through summer camps and clinics on college campuses.
During the first couple of years, the company literally operated out of Webb’s apartment in Memphis, Tenn. Instructors were hired from college squads and 4,000 students attended Varsity’s 24 camps in the Midwest and the South during the summer of 1975.
Over the course of the next several years, the UCA began to rapidly expand as their reputation for outstanding instructional programs, and in particular the emphasis on cheerleading gymnastics, quickly spread. The UCA’s goal is to inspire leadership on and off the field. All of the UCA’s material and programs are centrally focused on the traditional role of cheerleading.
Since 1980, the UCA has held the National High School Cheerleading Championships in Orlando. The all-star youth cheerleading championships have followed more recently.
Cheerleading’s increasing popularity in recent decades has made it a prominent feature in high-school themed movies and television shows.
The 2000 film Bring It On, about a San Diego, Calif., high school cheerleading squad called “The Toros,” starred former real-life cheerleader Kirsten Dunst, and was a surprise hit, earning nearly $90 million. The movie spawned five direct-to-video sequels and has become a cult classic.
Several reality-based TV shows involving cheerleaders and youth dance teams have also surfaced in recent years, one a behind-the-scenes look at the famed Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders of the NFL.
In the early 1980s, all-star cheerleading squads not associated with a school or sports leagues, whose main objective was competition, began to emerge. The first “all-star” cheerleading squad was formed in 1982 in Richmond, Va.