Parkway Central cheerleaders looking forward to state competition
By: Warren Mayes
The Parkway Central varsity cheer squad finished second at the state competition last year and now the Colts have a return trip set and will try to win it all this year.
The girls will take part in the two-day Missouri State Cheerleading Championships that begin Sunday (Oct. 21) at Hearnes Center in Columbia.
Parkway Central qualified for the state meet with a first-place finish at the St. Louis Regional Cheer Competition, which was held at St. Francis Borgia in Washington.
Coach Sandra Schuler said her girls remember last year and want to top that performance. Rock Bridge won the superlarge division with a score of 344 last fall with Parkway Central coming in second with a score of 339.
“Only five points separated the two teams,” Schuler said. “The girls were extremely proud of their performance, but finishing so close to first lights a fire pushing the girls for this year’s state competition.”
The squad of 23 girls again will compete in the superlarge division. Squad members are: Lindsey Baris, Gabrielle Bushman, Andrea Chelist, Molly Dicker, Lindsey Fafoglia, Caroline Fenton, Melanie Gavril, Megan Goddard, Alyiah Lanius, Jana’t Love, Marilyn Monroe, Jessie Mayer, Emily Novak, Molly Porfidio, Zoe Raft, Jamila Scales, Megan Schwandner, Lauren Skelly, Sophie Spizman, Marissa Turkin, Sallie Unell, Julia Wassserman and Christina Wilson.
The squad felt good about winning the regional, Schuler said.
“The girls were extremely excited to win the superlarge division of the St. Louis Regional again this year,” said Schuler, who got married June 30. “It was sort of crazy start to the year, as I got married. The girls rose to the occasion and really pulled together as a squad.”
It all begins with learning what to do, Schuler said.
“At the beginning of our season, we start by learning our routine for the year,” Schuler said. “We not only use this routine for competition but also participate in school events and pep rallies with a performance. We start practicing at the beginning of the summer, or rather the end of the school year, and continue all the way through February. Cheerleading truly is a year-round activity.”
The girls work hard. They put not only their time but their passion into doing the routines they perform to the best of their ability. Still, it was not sure deal Parkway Central would be out of the regional and return to state.
“We practice hard in order to prepare for competition, but in cheerleading there is never a sure thing,” Schuler said. “We can only work to be our very best and work for a strong performance on the day of competition.”
Time and effort and hard work goes into making the squad as good as it is. Like any program, success helps create enthusiasm and excitement.
“Building cheerleading squads and high school programs is not something that is done in a single year,” Schuler said. “It takes years of hard work, dedication, and high expectations to produce strong cheer programs. Being a former Parkway Central cheerleader myself, I have vested interest in the legacy of this program. It is my goal not only to produce strong and talented cheerleaders but also to help shape strong, intelligent, and dedicated young women.”
This year’s varsity squad consists of two seniors, 13 juniors, six sophomores, and two freshmen.
“The girls try out for new squads at the beginning of March — shortly after the closing of basketball season,” Schuler said. “All girls interested in trying out for our squads participate in three nights of cheer clinics in which they learn the cheer, chant, and dance that they are required to do for tryouts.
“Girls are judged on the execution of the cheer, chant, and dance, as well as their tumbling and jump skills. Over 50 girls try out for the Parkway Central cheer program and they are placed on squads according to age, skill, and need.”
Now those girls will see all the work and preparation come together at the state meet this weekend.