Ten girls from Delta County recently brought home two national-level cheerleading awards. The Diamond Team of Grand Mesa Cheer, comprised of 10 athletes ages 10-18 years old, competed at the XtremeSpirit Battle Royale National Championships in Las Vegas, and brought home an award for Best Tumbling, as well as being named the National Cheer Champions. This was the first time Grand Mesa Cheer has been able to bring a team to nationals, so it was extra special when the team took the national championship.
The event was a two-day competition where the girls had to showcase a routine that highlighted level-appropriate jumps, stunts, tumbles and choreography. The team is coached by Kristine Weiszbrod and Stephanie Rapozo. "The team worked hard on their goals, never gave up and continued to support one another all season," Coach Weiszbroad said. "We went up against a team who had some great talent. We learned to not buckle under pressure and appreciated the challenge."
Typically, the team only has the chance to compete against other teams in Colorado, so the trip to the national competition was a great experience and an opportunity for the girls to compete on a much larger scale, Coach Rapozo said.
The team is made up of athletes who have been cheering for several years and a handful of new girls. Emma Roberts, a seventh grader in Delta, was one of the first-year athletes who competed on the team. "It was really fun," she said. "It was an experience of a lifetime." Emma's position on the team is base, which means she is one who holds, throws and catches her teammates as they flip and spin. She said that one of the greatest things about being on the team is the close friendships she's made.
Kasey Dillon, a teammate of Emma's, agrees. She said the national competition served as a way for her team to grow exceptionally close. "We made a lot of bonds, and I've made a lot of life-long friends," she said. Kasey, 17, has been cheering with Coaches Weiszbrod and Rapoza for five years, and she was able to end her youth cheerleading experience with a national win; she has graduated and is heading to cosmetology school in just a few weeks. As she's grown, she's become more and more of a leader on the mats. She is the team backer, and she has the responsibility of directing the entire routine, ensuring that all team members are doing their jobs safely. She said the trip to nationals was eye-opening. "It was cool to see all the different teams and see some new choreography," she said.
Part of the reason Grand Mesa Cheer has never taken a team to nationals is the large expense associated with the event. On top of travel expenses, it costs $140 per athlete to compete. However, this year at an earlier qualifying meet, the Diamond Team placed high enough to receive a full bid (which means the team's entry fees were waived), which allowed the team to go. The girls still had to fundraise quite a bit of money to help pay for travel, and they've worked hard since January holding multiple fundraisers in order to attend nationals. "We were blessed by our parent team and by the community," Coach Weiszbrod said.
Grand Mesa Cheer has offered competitive cheerleading for kids aged 5-18 since 2010, when cheerleading as a sport was cut at several of the local high schools. Since they aren't school based, their season runs a little longer, about 10 months. Kids who participate in Grand Mesa Cheer typically travel around the state to compete in four competitions throughout the season. The new season begins in July, and registrations are now open.
Grand Mesa Cheer offers competition for youth, junior and senior level cheerleaders.