The UIL Spirit State Championships is a relatively new competition, in only it’s thirds year. The State Spirit competition gives a chance for Texas High School cheer squads to perform for the chance to claim a “state championship”. This year there were 87 schools participating in the 3A competition field. The competition has three different preliminary performances with the top twenty schools moving on to the finals. The three performances are Crowd Leading, Band Chant, and Fight Song. Van Alstyne and Howe competed but did not advance to the finals, where only twenty schools compete for placement. This year the top local school was Gunter HS, placing 6th.

In the three years of the competition, Howe has competed each year, with a top 10 finish last season. Pam Kirby Howe HS cheer sponsor was proud of her team, “this team performed to the exact standards and expectations that I had given them as a coach. They were tight, clean and loud! They have been a coachable team since day one. This team has had obstacle after obstacle this year and continually picked themselves up and continued to adapt and overcome. I have enjoyed every minute of coaching this team. “

Van Alstyne competed in 2016 but did not compete last year, so this was a new experience for the whole team. Cheer sponsor Melissa Reid said, “I am very happy with our performance this year. This is the first time that these girls have competed at a cheer competition and they did very well. As a coach, I was very proud of their performance. They took everything that we had practiced and executed it without hesitation and with confidence. They hit every stunt and motion and led the crowd with spirit and enthusiasm. I was beaming with pride after every performance.”

Howe’s senior cheer captain, Mikayla Doty spoke of her favorite experience of competing at state, “was seeing all of the hard work come together. After months of practicing countless hours, having a final product that our team was proud of is a blessing in itself.” Teams often make changes to the cheer competition squad, adding to the need for long practice times. VAHS used JV cheer team members in multiple new roles for the competition, whether it was flags, sign holders, to adding tumblers to the squad. Melissa Reid shared how much work went into these three minutes of competition. “We started in November and had two to three after-school practices a week and class time as well. We probably spent up to ten to twelve hours a week practicing and choreographing our routines.”

Van Alstyne’s senior cheer captain Kerrigan Servati talked about the experience and the future, “it was a learning experience for the whole team as none of us have competed before. I think it is important for future cheerleaders to know that cheer is much more than just being on the football sidelines. As a senior, I am thankful for this opportunity and what we have started to continue for future cheer groups to return and build on this year.”