Last Sunday, December 9, the RBHS cheer team competed in Cape Girardeau to qualify to nationals. After an impressive first place finish for their game day routine and a second place for their competitive routine, the group scored enough points to qualify to nationals for game day. Nationals will take place at Orlando, Florida next February.
The last time the cheer squad competed in nationals was 2011, so coaches and athletes alike were ecstatic for the qualification. RBHS cheer coach of three years, Kristine Hayes, said she’s extremely proud of the team’s improvement since when she first joined the program as well as for the hard work her student athletes invested throughout the year.
“The level of talent has increased tremendously in the three years I have been here. Returning kids are upping their game and new kids are coming in with more skills,” said Hayes. “Also the level of commitment each athlete is willing to give, they don’t just want to do well, they work hard to meet the goals they have set and then make new one.”
Sophomore Mackenzie Harvey started as an alternative for the varsity team. A few weeks prior she became officially a part of the varsity team. She said competing on the varsity level has opened many exciting opportunities, but with the higher level, more nerves as well.
Hayes said grit and determination accredit to the team’s success. Just like Harvey, the team carries a good mindset when cheering to execute the crisp stunts they practice.
“They don’t let anything get them down. A road block gets in the way, they find a way to get around it,” Harvey said. “This group is extremely resilient.”
A new edition to the team is freshmen Zachary Wilmore who took dance and gymnastic lessons since he was young and only converted to cheer this year. Willmore said the club provided him a home in a new school, especially after coming from a smaller private school.
“The RBHS cheer team is special because of how close we are as a group,” Willmore said. “I really feel accepted and welcomed into the environment.”
Hayes relates to Wilmore as not only is she proud of the team’s success, but also, enjoys the family feeling fostered.
“They make me laugh. They don’t take themselves too seriously and are always willing to laugh at themselves,” Hayes said. “I have also really enjoyed being able to coach two of my own kids on this team, a freshman and a senior. It has added an extra connection to this group.”