By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Quentin and Monica Holmes say they have always been proud of their teams at The Cheer Pitt.
And while they have taken numerous awards in regional competitions, they never believed their teams were good enough to compete at the national level.
A team from The Cheer Pitt recently brought home the top trophy for its division from the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship in Dallas. The trophy is taller than many girls on the team.
“Regionally we’d do really well; we won everything at regionals last year,” Holmes said Tuesday. “But at nationals, there are teams from gyms that literally have 3,000 kids turn out for tryouts, and they can only choose 20, so the ones that get chosen already are terrific right when they start out.”
By comparison, many of the children who show up to The Cheer Pitt, which has 56 members, are “green” when they begin — some as young as 5.
“We said, ‘Let’s just go to nationals this year and watch what the really good teams do,’” said Holly Kent, a Pittsburg native whose daughter, Carmen — a George Nettels fifth grader — is on a team from The Cheer Pit. “We thought, ‘You know, if we could even place in the top five, that would be great.’”
The national competition was held last weekend in the Dallas Convention Center, which had six gym floors in use at all times. It accommodated the 995 teams and 22,000 cheerleaders.
“This is not cheerleading like most people think of, where they’re in front of crowds at a football games going, ‘Rah rah’ with pompoms,” Holmes said. “This is a billion-dollar industry. These girls are total athletes. They do a two-and-a-half-minute routine where they never stop moving. It’s finely choreographed, lots of stunts, jumps. They just never stop.”
Holmes and his wife know what is required; they were cheerleaders at Pittsburg State University from 2003 to 2006.
“But this kind of cheering makes our kind look a little boring,” Quentin laughed.
The couple opened The Cheer Pitt in February 2009. Monica does all of the choreography.
The Cheer Pitt took 40 competitors on two teams to nationals: A youth team of girls 11 and younger, and a senior team of boys and girls 18 and older.
“It’s important to note that on our youth team, which took the trophy, the average age of the girls is 8 years old,” Kent said. “And for four of the girls, including my daughter, this is their very first year.”
The All-Star youth team practiced twice weekly for two hours each time. Kent said most girls also trained during open-gym time at least two other nights each week.
The team was one of 14 that also earned a paid bid to the Varsity All-Star Summit, which includes a four-night stay at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and a two-day competition.
“Dallas was our Super Bowl,” Kent explained. “The Summit is like when the best teams get to go to the Pro Bowl.”
The girls will be responsible for travel costs, but all expenses while at the Summit are covered.
The senior Cheer Pitt team returned to Pittsburg with a fifth-place ranking at nationals — something to be proud of their first year, Kent said.
‘They are the team’
“In football, the cheerleaders get the crowd going to support the team. With this type of cheer, they are the team. We’re so proud of them. The level of perfection from each has to be 100 percent, or the team has no chance. We still can’t believe it, “ said Holly Kent, whose daughter, Carmen, recently competed with a team from The Cheer Pit at a national competition in Dallas.
Visit the NCA website to see photos, video and more from Cheer Pitt Adrenaline.