Decatur has a lot to cheer for this month.
The Gators cheer team placed first in two divisions at state earlier this month, taking home a state championship title in 2A/4A Medium Non-Tumbling and 2A/4A Medium Game Day.
Decatur scored 81 points in the first division and 91 points in the second, which were the highest scores the Gators squad received all year.
In the first performance, Decatur cheer coach Angelica Watkins said Decatur’s routine was flawless. For their second performance, despite a musical mishap at the beginning, the team recovered easily and finished very strong.
“My team put on their best performance of the year,” Watkins said.
The Decatur team consists of 15 girls and one boy.
“This year has had a lot of ups and downs but the one thing this team was able to accomplish is to work selflessly,” she said, noting that she’s never worked with a group of kids before that worked together so wholeheartedly in their pursuit of being state champions.
Watkins said her coaching method is to focus on her kids’ intent of heart, and she’s thankful to have a group of kids with great intent on the team.
“I strongly believe that I can take anyone and make them a good cheerleader as long as they are coachable and have outstanding character, which all 16 of my kids exemplify.”
In the past the cheer team had received second place at state, so everyone, particularly the seniors, were vying for a first place win.
“They pushed this team in and out of practice because they knew we needed to work harder than we ever had this year to get to our goal,” she said.
Watkins said they are hoping to cheer on the Decatur girls basketball team all the way to the Tacoma Dome this weekend for regionals. Soon, it will be time for tryouts for next year’s cheer team.
Watkins is also hoping for another state win, with the team then heading to UCA Nationals.
“We got eighth in the nation in 2019 for our game day routine and want to come back strong,” she said.
The cheer team is close to Watkins’s heart, as she was a member of the last Decatur team to win state in 2011, coached by her now-assistant coach Laurie Beaver.
“I absolutely love this team,” she said. “We have cried together, laughed together and created so many memories along the way. I’ll never forget this team and they will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Todd Beamer Cheer coach Aryeonna Jackson told the Mirror she is proud of her team for placing at State after their hard work all year.
They scored 77 points in the 4A Small Game Day divison, placing in 2nd overall.
“This team is so determined, it’s inspiring to watch as their coach,” Jackson said.
She said that many of the kids are also invovled in other clubs outside of cheer, and some of them have running start on top of it, so seeing their hard work and dedication is one of her favorite parts of being their coach.
“They’re some of the goofiest and most respectful kids I have coached thus far,” she said. “They have grown so much as a team. I am so proud to be their coach.”
Jackson said it meant so much to Beamer Cheer that they made it to State, expecially since their goal for the year was to qualify.
“And we were so excited/shocked to bring back Todd Beamer Cheerleading it’s first state title in school history,” she said. “Being a TBHS cheer alumni made it even more special.”
Like Decatur, Beamer Cheer is now cheering on the Girls’ Basketball team on their own road to State, but next year she said “Our Lady Titans plan to compete next year and hopefully make it to the UCA nationals.”